The Meaning of Cohabiting Unions in France and in West Germany

Jean-Marie Le Goff, Université de Lausanne

The aim of the paper is to compare transitions to cohabiting unions and marriage in France and in West Germany. These two countries display since the beginning of seventies an increase in cohabiting unions. To this increase corresponds in France an important rise in non-marital births, while the increase of non-marital birth is much less important in West Germany. Our hypothesis is that cohabiting unions became a prelude to marriage in West Germany while they developed into an alternative to marriage in the case of France. This hypothesis is tested on original FFS data of the two countries. Techniques of event history analysis are applied in order to analyse transitions to cohabiting unions and to marriage. Results confirm our hypothesis in West-Germany. They show for France that a part of cohabiting unions is an alternative to the marriage and that another part is a prelude to it.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Union Formation and Dissolution and Parents' Living Arrangements