Family Formation in China and Germany: A Study of National Cohabitation Patterns and Their Determinants

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Barbara FULDA, TU Chemnitz, Germany
Implicit in numerous demographic work is the assumption of convergence: Sooner or

later more and more countries will go through sequential stages of demographic change

famously labelled as first and second demographic transition. Although countries worldwide

are equally hit by global social and economic changes, the question arises if they

also follow a common path of societal development despite their cultural idiosyncrasies.

This study focuses on two regions facing those common challenges, while being culturally

highly diverse: East Asia and Western Europe.

Recent evidence seems to confirm the convergence assumption as China experiences

rising numbers of cohabitation, decreasing marriage and increasing divorce rates just like

countries in the Western hemisphere did several decades before. One third of all recent

marriages in China began as cohabiting unions, while marrying one’s partner without

prior cohabitation has become rare in the Western hemisphere. Due to its relevance in

the process of family formation this study therefore concentrates on non-marital cohabitation

as new and quickly emerging phenomenon. Despite constituting highly differing

cultural contexts and national policy regimes China and Germany, as comparative case

in the Western hemisphere, share characteristics such as population aging, high women’s

labor participation and widespread conservative family values.

On the basis of two nationally representative annual longitudinal surveys, namely the

German Family Panel pairfam and the China Family Panel Studies CFPS, the cohabitation

history of the cohort which recently turned 35 is examined. Sequence analysis, multinomial

logistic regression and discrete time event history analysis is used to first detect

national patterns of cohabitation histories i.e. the prevalence, occurrence and timing of

cohabitation and, second, to analyze their determinants. Those results enable us to answer

if and how national differences in histories, institutions, and cultural traditions create different

kinds of risks and opportunities for citizens in East Asia and Western Europe.