Fertility after repartnering in the Netherlands: Parenthood or commitment?

K.O. Ivanova, M. Kalmijn, W.J.G. Uunk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In this paper, we focus on childbearing after the dissolution of the first marital union. The discussion of what drives fertility decisions after dissolution has been largely dominated by the arguments that: (a) people want to have a child as a way to achieve the adult status of parenthood (the “parenthood hypothesis”), and that (b) a shared child can signal the partners’ commitment to each other (the “commitment hypothesis”). Earlier studies have reported mixed findings for these hypotheses. We used couple data from several Dutch surveys (N = 8094 couples of which 10.2% included a repartnering partner) and utilized a new analytical approach to test the commitment proposition in particular. Our main findings lend support to the parenthood hypothesis when it comes to men's transition to a union-specific birth and to the commitment hypothesis when considering women's transition. Whereas for men, children from a prior union decrease the likelihood of transitioning to a union-specific birth, for women children from a prior union do not matter. That is, women would find it important to confirm the union as a family despite the presence of children. Additional support for the commitment hypothesis for women is that being in a second union rather than first union increases chances of parity progression.
Keywords: Commitment, Fertility, Higher-order unions, Parenthood, Repartnering, The Netherlands
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101–112
JournalAdvances in Life Course Research
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Fertility after repartnering in the Netherlands: Parenthood or commitment?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this