Married and cohabiting parents' well-being: The effects of a cultural normative context across countries

Olga Stavrova*, Detlef Fetchenhauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Research of personal relationships has typically linked childbearing in cohabiting (compared to married) couples to decreased well-being. Using data from 24 European countries, we show that this effect is not universal; rather, it is restricted to countries with a strong social norm that proscribes childbearing in cohabiting unions. We examine two potential mechanisms of this effect; the personal norm (cohabiting parents are worse off because their status deviates from their own expectations) and social norm (cohabiting parents are worse off because they experience external social sanctions, such as social disapproval) mechanisms. Our results provide support for the social norm mechanism. First, the detrimental effect related to a country's social norm exists even for cohabiting parents who personally favor childbearing in cohabiting couples. Second, in countries with a strong norm against childbearing in cohabiting unions, cohabiting parents feel that they are less respected than married couples, which contributes to lower levels of life satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-632
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Volume32
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cohabitation
  • cross-cultural research
  • life satisfaction
  • marriage
  • parenthood
  • social norms
  • subjective well-being
  • PRE-ENGAGEMENT COHABITATION
  • RELATIONSHIP QUALITY
  • SELF-ESTEEM
  • DEMOGRAPHIC-TRANSITION
  • MODERATED MEDIATION
  • EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
  • ADULTS LIVES
  • PEOPLE HAPPY
  • DEPRESSION
  • CHILDREN

Cite this

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title = "Married and cohabiting parents' well-being: The effects of a cultural normative context across countries",
abstract = "Research of personal relationships has typically linked childbearing in cohabiting (compared to married) couples to decreased well-being. Using data from 24 European countries, we show that this effect is not universal; rather, it is restricted to countries with a strong social norm that proscribes childbearing in cohabiting unions. We examine two potential mechanisms of this effect; the personal norm (cohabiting parents are worse off because their status deviates from their own expectations) and social norm (cohabiting parents are worse off because they experience external social sanctions, such as social disapproval) mechanisms. Our results provide support for the social norm mechanism. First, the detrimental effect related to a country's social norm exists even for cohabiting parents who personally favor childbearing in cohabiting couples. Second, in countries with a strong norm against childbearing in cohabiting unions, cohabiting parents feel that they are less respected than married couples, which contributes to lower levels of life satisfaction.",
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author = "Olga Stavrova and Detlef Fetchenhauer",
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Married and cohabiting parents' well-being : The effects of a cultural normative context across countries. / Stavrova, Olga; Fetchenhauer, Detlef.

In: Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Vol. 32, No. 5, 08.2015, p. 601-632.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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