Diverse Family Formation Trajectories and Their Consequences for Coparenting

Anette E. Fasang, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Eric D. Widmer, Université de Lausanne

Family formation has become increasingly divers over the past decades across advanced societies. Yet, we know little about possibly enduring consequences of this diversity for family interactions. This paper examines the impact of different family formation pathways on coparenting practices, a dimension that is crucial for child well-being. We compare first-time families with two co-resident biological parents with stepfamilies using data from 300 women living with a biological child, sampled with a matching procedure to equalize first-time and stepfamilies in terms of socio-economic background. Findings from sequence analysis and regression models show that family formation trajectories are associated with several dimensions of co-parenting. "Standard" family formation trajectories of early marriage and quick motherhood are associated with high quality coparenting in first-time families. In contrast, women in stepfamilies are better equipped to navigate coparenting with the biological father outside of traditional marital roles if they had more extensive experiences of independent adult living before motherhood.

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 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households