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  • Project contributors: Perelli-Harris B, Hoherz S, Styrc M,

    This Project is part of the following research programme/s:

    Fertility and Family


    Countries throughout Europe and the US are experiencing profound changes in the family, particularly due to increases in cohabitation and union dissolution, as well as childbearing outside of marriage. These changes raise questions about the consequences of these new family arrangements and whether they may be associated with poor outcomes. Previous studies have found that marriage benefits health, wealth, and well-being by providing social support, intimacy, and protection. However, much of the previous research was conducted in earlier decades and usually in the US, when cohabitation was less common and selective of particular characteristics. In addition, most of this research compared the married and unmarried, without distinguishing between cohabiting and single people. Given the increase in the prevalence and duration of cohabitation, it is no longer clear that the act of marriage per se matters for well-being or health; simply forming a lasting partnership may provide similar social and emotional benefits. Thus, it is important to investigate whether new living arrangements now result in similar outcomes as marriage.

    This project compares the consequences of new family arrangements in a number of diverse settings that represent different welfare regimes and cultural contexts: Australia, Norway, Germany, the UK, and the US. The collaborative team is systematically analysing a range of partnership behaviours and childbearing in different types of partnerships. The team is exploring a number of outcomes in mid-life, including mental well-being, health, depression, wealth, satisfaction with life, and wage differentials. They primarily employ Propensity Score Matching, or Propensity-score weighted regression, which reduces selection bias by matching respondents with similar characteristics and observing the effect of the treatment, i.e. different living arrangements. By collaborating on methods and measures, the collaborators aim to present a cohesive study that compares the consequences of new family behaviours across countries.

    Publications & Activities

    Perelli-Harris B, Carbone J, DeRose L, Bradford-Wilcox W, Cahn N, (2018) Unequal Family Lives. The Consequences of New Living Arrangements in Cross-national Comparison in Unequal Family Lives. The Consequences of New Living Arrangements in Cross-national Comparison
    Cambridge University Press

    Differences in subjective well-being between marriage and cohabitation in mid-life in the UK, Australia, Germany, and Norway.
    Social Statistics and Demography Seminar Series (2017). (University of Southampton)
    Authors: Hoherz S,

    Universal or unique? Understanding diversity in partnership experiences across Europe
    Family Inequality: Causes and Consequences in Europe and the Americas (2017). (Roma Tre University)
    Authors: Perelli-Harris B,

    Partnership status and the wage premium in mid-life in the U.S., UK, Germany, and Norway
    Genderball Conference (2017). (Leuven, Belgium)
    Authors: Perelli-Harris B,

    Partnership dynamics and inequality
    Child Poverty and Social Mobility: Lessons for Research and Policy Family Change and Social Inequality workshop (2016). (University of Southampton)
    Authors: Perelli-Harris B,

    A snapshot on marriage and cohabitation in Europe
    Understanding population change in Europe and China: Sharing research experiences for policy development (2016). (University of Southampton)
    Authors: Perelli-Harris B,

    Comparing the Benefits of Cohabitation and Marriage for Health and Happiness in Mid-Life: Is the Relationship Similar Across Countries?
    Population Association of America, Washington D.C., 2016 (2016). (Marriott Wardman Park, Washington D.C.)
    Authors: Perelli-Harris B, Styrc M, Addo F, Lappegård T, Sassler S, Evans A,

    Union formation and mid-life well-being: is cohabitation as good as marriage?
    BSPS Conference 2015 (2015). (University of Leeds)
    Authors: Styrc M, Perelli-Harris B, Evans A, Lappegård T, Addo F, Sassler S,

    Do relationships make you happy? Investigating union formation and positive mental health in Great Britain
    CLS Cohort Studies Research Conference 2015 (2015). (Institute of Education, University of London)
    Authors: Perelli-Harris B, Styrc M,