The Link between the Divorce Revolution and the Cohabitation Boom

Brienna Perelli-Harris, University of Southampton
Paulina Galezewska, University of Southampton
Nora Sánchez Gassen, University of Southampton
Jennifer A. Holland, Center for Population Change, University of Southampton

Over the past decades, divorce and cohabitation have increased dramatically throughout Europe. While previous theories of family change have recognized the parallel increase in divorce and cohabitation, few have postulated a direct relationship between the two. Here we explore the idea of a direct link by identifying causal pathways, for example through divorce reform, shifts in attitudes, the experience of divorce, and intergenerational transmission. We draw on quantitative and qualitative data to provide evidence. Using partnership histories from 14 countries in Europe, we describe the link from a number of analytical perspectives. Using focus group data from 8 European countries, we illustrate how divorce has changed social attitudes relating to marriage and cohabitation. Although trends and explanations may differ across countries, our investigation provides general insights into why cohabitation has increased.

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Presented in Session 129: Cohabitation and Marriage