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Partnership trajectories and childbearing after the disruption of a first union in France

11th September 2009 1pm, University of Southampton B58/2097

Eva Beaujouan, ESRC Centre for Population Change

France has a high relationship dissolution rate, and a quarter of first unions started in 1995-1999 were broken during the first five years. A growing number of people are experiencing the social, familial and economic consequences of union breakdown. This thesis addresses individual partnership and fertility behaviours after separation, using classical demographic methods in parallel with statistical analyses. The work is based primarily on retrospective data, from the French Generation and Gender Survey (2005), the "Enquete familles et employeurs" (on conciliation between work and family life, 2004) and the Family History Study (1999). The main results of this work are as follows: 1) In France, repartnering frequency increased for women at the beginning of the 1980s, as huge changes in family behaviours were taking place. Among men, the likelihood of repartnering has decreased in recent years, which could be linked to socioeconomic reasons. Separated mothers are less likely than women without children or men to repartner, and when they do their new partnership has a higher chance of disruption. 2) Men and women couple behaviours differ, and depend on their sociocultural characteristics. People who were first engaged in a more established relationship, long married, or fertile for men, seem more attached to family life in general. For example, second unions are less likely to break down if the first relationship was more established. 3) The growing frequency of break-up seems to result in delayed and decreased fertility. Indeed, females have less time to conceive their children. Childbearing in second unions is highly associated with the combined characteristics of the two partners: age and parenthood. Birth is less likely to take place when the woman reaches less fertile ages or if both partners already have children.