Studies on Europe and the U.S. indicate that marriage has been postponed, cohabitation has increased, and unions are more likely to dissolve. However, no study has been able to capture all of these dimensions simultaneously. Here we use latent class growth models to trace the complexity of union formation in the United States and 14 countries in Europe. We examine how union status can change between the ages of 15-45 for women born 1945-74. After determining the optimal number of latent classes, we calculate the probability of falling into each class by country and cohort. This shows the heterogeneity of union patterns across countries and over time. In all countries, changes in relationship patterns have been driven by the postponement of marriage, while premarital cohabitation and separation have varied more by region. Cohabitation has emerged as its own class but is not yet identical to marriage.
Diversity of partnership and parental trajectories are common in contemporary societies. In Hungarian demographic and family sociology research both quantitative and qualitative projects underlined that partnership trajectories have crucial relevance regarding the low fertility in Hungary. The analytical starting point of this paper differentiate between partnership trajectories and parenthood. The goal of the paper is the analysis in detail of changing partnership trajectories of youngsters in an East-Central European country after WW II, as well as specifying the added value of interpretation of sequence analysis data. Questions: 1)How has historically changed timing, sequencing and time duration of specific partnership statuses between age of 18 and 30 years? 2)What are the typical partnership trajectories of youngsters regarding ’similarity’ of timing, sequencing and duration? Hypotheses: Similarity patterns of partnership trajectories add some relevant aspects to the existing demographic knowledge of gender specific partnership formation during early adulthood. Differences in patterns of partnership trajectories can be explained by historical changes of family formation, by education level and/or entering first parenthood. Methods and data: sequence analysis (geometrical interpretation: Elzinga and Liefbroer 2007), in the Hungarian Generations and Gender Survey of partnership histories of people born between 1932–1971, binary logistic regression models (dependent variable=one typical trajectory versus all other patterns, independent variables=education level, age, first parenthood, interaction terms). Main findings: Sequence analysis adds to the gender specific interpretation of young family life paths. Pluralism has historical roots, but the prevalence of various partnership trajectories is rather balanced at the end of the XX century. Generation, education level and parenthood have changing explanatory power regarding the odds of different typical partnership trajectories. The odds of some trajectories are weakly dependent on generations and are rather explained by education level or parenthood. Other trajectories are rather age group specific patterns.