Same Sex Partnership and the Northern Europe Pattern of Family Formation

Patrick Festy, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Marie Digoix, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Kees Waaldijk, Universiteit Leiden

Since the 1960s an original pattern of family formation has emerged in the Northern part of Europe. To parallel the demographic aspects we introduce legal consequences attached to marriage and informal cohabitation. We check if diversity in legal systems could explain (or result from) the present contrasts in family formation in Europe and be an obstacle to a future standardisation. In the 1990s the Nordic countries enacted laws legalising same-sex unions. So are now doing some non-Nordic countries. Dispersion in registration and separation frequencies is much wider than among heterosexuals in Northern Europe. Out of it, registration rates in the Netherlands are higher than anywhere else. A parallel analysis is conducted on legal consequences attached to different-sex versus same-sex registration. There seems to be much less of a Northern behavioural pattern on same-sex unions, despite a larger uniformity in legislation. Reasons are to be searched out of the legal sphere.

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Presented in Session 148: International Perspectives on Cohabitation