The role of ideational factors in partnership formation

Zsolt Spéder, HCSO Demographic Research Institute
Balázs Kapitány, Demographic Research Institute

The gaining importance of cohabitation among first union is fact since the end of the 90s in Hungary. Today 70 percent of the first partnership is cohabitation and 30 percent marriage. Of course many cohabitants transform their partnership into marriage, however a not neglectable share of first cohabitants stay in cohabitation, others separate. As a result we experience variations in the ways how first partnership starts, and how it evolves. The profound changes in partnership formation call the attention to identify influencing factors. Using two waves of Hungarian GGS follow up survey we will concentrate on ideational factors in this investigation. In our former descriptive analyse we could show that educational differences play a role in the proliferation of cohabitation: the expansion of cohabitation was triggered by the two end of the educational hierarchy. Current theory on partnership formation focuses on two other determinants of cohabitation, and types of partnership. The economic theory of partnership behaviour expresses the importance of labour market position (type of activity and uncertainty of job) and earnings. Cultural theories of partnership behaviour, especially the “second demographic transition” stress the importance of ideational (attitudinal, value orientations) factors. In our investigation we aim to disentangle the influences of the later type. Of course economic factors (labour market position, income class) and level of education will be controlled. Two waves of the Hungarian GGS enable us to overcome the problem of “selection” vs. “adaptation”. As long the dependent variables (having cohabitation vs. marriage as first partnership; transforming first cohabitation into marriage vs. staying in cohabitation) will be measured between the first two waves, independent variables (objective and ideational states of the respondents) will be measured at the first wave, before the events of partnership formation. Therefore our independent variables could be seen as “selection” factors.

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Presented in Session 53: Family Formation Processes