Even though the mean age at childbirth has increased in all countries in the recent decades, a non-negligible proportion of women still give birth at a very early age. The graph below shows the percentage of women of three different cohorts who have given birth before the age of 20. The data reveal a sharp East-West European contrast, with much higher percentages of women experiencing early childbearing in the East than in the West. Among women born in 1975-79, around 4 percent gave birth before the age of 20 on average in the Western European countries represented in the graph, against 17 percent in the East, although with very large cross-national differences. The reasons for early childbearing are complex but often involve a combination of poverty, low education and limited access to contraception. Universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services and a reduction of adolescent birth rate are at the core of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Data from the Generations and Gender Survey help to monitor these demographic trends.
Over the past decades family formation behaviour has diversified in Europe. The graph below, based on the Generations and Gender Survey, displays the percentage of men and women who have followed a traditional pathway in their family formation, that is, they experienced the following sequence of events: they first left the parental home, then married, after which they had their first child, and they experienced all three events before the age of 30. The results show a large decrease across cohorts in the percentage following such a traditional pathway. For example, in France more than 60% of people born between 1945 and 1954 followed a traditional family pathway, while this figure was down to 30% for people born between 1965 and 1974. The changes in family formation behaviour are more pronounced in West-European countries than in Central- and East-European countries.
The Generations & Gender Survey is currently preparing for a new round of data collection with entirely fresh samples. There is an updtaed questionnaire and fieldwork procedures which will ensure greater standards and quicker data processing. To demonstrate this new fieldwork procedure and implement the new questionnaire, the GGS is currently been fielded in Belarus. Fieldwork will be finished in November and one aim of the new design is to get data to researchers as quickly as possible. We therefore aim to have a beta version of this dataset ready before Christmas. The updated questionnaire contains comparable life histories to the FFS and GGS but also includes a number of new modules and items aimed at shedding further light on family and life course dynamics. For example, there are a series of items on an individuals’ sense of control. The results from Belarus already indicate that there are considerable differences in ‘control’ across across age groups and genders.
Partnership arrangements for families with disabled children vary across countries in Europe. Analysis of GGP data reveals that disabled children in all countries are more likely to live in a one-parent household (on average 16% of them, as compared with 11% of non disabled children) – with the exception of Russia. Living apart together is also more common among women with disabled children. In addition, analysis of GGP data on partnership histories indicates that among the families with disabled children, almost 2% never had a partner. Among those currently without a partner (11% of the total group) almost all (91%) separated following the birth of the disabled child. Even among the families with both partners in the household, about 6% separated after the birth of the disabled child, which indicates a new union for the respondent. Data from the GGP is vital for understanding how disabilities affect family life and how these effects can be mitigated.
Social mobility is a long standing issue in social research. The GGP offers extensive comparable dataon this topic and a window into the complex dynamics that make up social mobility. In the figure belowwe plot the degree to which a respondent’s father’s education explains his or her own educationaloutcome. The picture it reveals is one of relative stability, in spite of the expansion in higher educationthat most countries have witnessed. This stability is particularly evident in post-socialist countriessuch as Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Lithuania where even birth cohorts who undertookthe vast majority of their education after 1989 enjoy relatively high rates of social mobility. However,some countries have shown significant change. In Italy, we can see that an individual’s educationaloutcome has become less dependent on the educational attainment of their father. This is true forboth men and women. Looking forward, new rounds of data collection in the GGP will help update thispicture and understand what the social mobility picture is for millennials and how it is influenced by achanging demographic, social and economic climate.
Figure 1: Social Immobility in 16 Countries by Birth Cohorts
Note: Social mobility is calculated using the R square of an OLS model predicting a respondents’ years ofschooling using their father’s years of schooling. The higher the R square, the more educational attainmentis explained by father’s education. A high score therefore reflects low social mobility and a low scorereflects high social mobility. Data comes from wave 1 of the GGS.