The political changes in Eastern Europe during the 1990s drew a lot of attention both from the media and academia. However, the demographic transformations of the region-less obvious, but equally important phenomena-rarefy came into the focus, although they tend to have tremendous long term consequences (Bradatan & Firebaugh, 2007). Two decades after the fall of state socialism, the demographic picture of Eastern Europe is remarkably changed: an accelerated decline of fertility, relatively high mortality and, in some cases, a high rate of out migration, made several of these countries to record a population decline.
It is nowadays the norm for young Eastern Europeans to delay marriage, postpone having children, have high rates of divorce and, as a result, have an increasing percentage of the children born (or spending a significant part of their life) outside of a two-parent family. Declining fertility, one of the most often cited demographic features of East European countries, is, among other factors, a result of postponement of marriage and childbearing (Billari & Kohler, 2004). The changing patterns of union formation (high number of divorces and cohabitations, delay of marriage) and the corresponding decline in fertility suggest that the Eastern European countries entered into the second demographic transition phase. Moreover, the Eastern European societies are more heterogeneous from a demographic point of view as various groups (characterized either by ethnicity, education, type of employment, level of income) tend to get a distinct demographic profile and have different trajectories than others (Kantorova, 2004; Koycheva, 2006). This increasing diversity of family related behaviors can be seen as the result of different level of access to social and economic resources (Mitchell, 2006) as inequality accompanies economic growth in this part of the world.
Although the demographic changes described above are well documented at the macro level (Kohler & Philipov, 2001; Monnier & Rychtarchikova, 1992) the lack of longitudinal data makes difficult or almost impossible to model and explain these changes at the individual level.
In this paper we focus on Hungary and analyze data from the Gender and Generations Survey. We are interested in the main factors affecting the first union formation patterns (cohabitation versus marriage) for women and we investigate how these patterns vary across different cohorts. We put all these information into a detailed, dynamic picture, using event history methods employed into three different models.
Apart from trying to understand which groups are more willing to enter into cohabitation and to reject marriage, we also describe the relationship between cohabitation and marriage. We look to this relationship from three different points of view. If cohabitation is a replacement for marriage, those who cohabit will be similar to those who marry. Then, the increase in the number of out of wedlock births and the decrease in the marriage rate is simply a statistical question (as cohabitations are not recorded in the official statistics). If cohabitation is a step toward marriage, then those who enter cohabitation will also tend to enter marriage sooner or later, so the decrease in the marriage rate would be the result of postponing of rather than refraining from marriage. If cohabitation is a form of being single, then few cohabiters have children and cohabitations would rarely end up with a marriage.
The new home economics theory (Becker, 1981) advocates the idea that women tend to postpone or avoid marriage and to reduce their number of children because of the changing role of the marriage in a woman's life. Historically, marriage was the only a source of a steady income for women, but nowadays a woman can have her own job and enjoy financial security that comes with it. Entering cohabitation instead of marriage is seen, from this perspective, as a result of women's empowerment: more educated women would then prefer to keep their freedom and would enter cohabitation or stay single rather than marry, since income can be secured by other means. The literature on second demographic transition argues as well that highly educated women are more prone to engage in cohabitation, although the reasons are different: they are less concerned with respecting the societal norms (Lesthaeghe, 1983). Some scholars building on the ideational changes that triggered the second demographic transition argue that cohabitation is in fact an alternative to marriage (Lewin, 1982; Leridon, 1990).
Other scholars see cohabitation as a step toward marriage, but not an alternative to it. Rather, cohabitation is a logical pretest to make more informed decisions when marriage choices come up (Bumpass & Sweet, 1989; Bennett & et al., 1988). Partly connected to this argument is the perspective that links the rise in cohabitation with the increasing difficulties of transition to adulthood. In this approach, uncertainty drives cohabitation, which offers flexibility instead of more formal partnerships. It was also argued that the postponement of marriage is a result of women staying more time in school and of the societal expectation that those in school are not ready for marriage (Hoem, 1986; Blossfeld & Huinink, 1991).
Finally, some scholar's argued that cohabitation is very similar to being single in the sense of not giving up independence and personal autonomy (Rindfuss and van den Heuvel, 1990). In this perspective, cohabitation seldom ends in marriage.
Studies done on various Eastern European countries tend to contradict some of these theories and results. Kantorova (2004), studying family formation in Czech Republic, shows that education and employment have a strong influence on women's family formation behavior, but not in the direction predicted by the second demographic theory. Educated women tend to choose to marry rather than to cohabit, and even if they cohabit, they do it for a short period of time. Koytcheva (2006), argues that college educated women in Bulgaria tend to marry later, have fewer children but also have lower risk of divorce.
In Hungary, cohabitation was an uncommon phenomenon until the late 1980s and it was largely confined to the divorced or widowed individuals (Carlson & Klinger, 1987). Among the ethnic groups, Gypsy/Rroma tended to have higher rates of cohabitation, mainly due to their reluctance to register their marriages officially (Barany, 2002; Carlson & Klinger, 1987). Since the 1980s, cohabitation became much more frequent among all ethnic groups and it has been argued to have strongly influenced the decline in fertility (Speder, 2006).
DATA AND METHODS
The data we used for this paper come from the first wave of the Gender and Generations Survey for Hungary (Turning points of the life course, 2001).This database is the result of a cross sectional, nationally representative survey (bistratified sample), conducted in 2001, based on a sample of people age 18-74, with 16363 respondents (8931 women and 7432 men) and using more than 600 variables. The respondents' addresses were selected from the National Election Office database (Kapitany, 2003).The response rate was 67.9% and the sample is representative for the non-institutionalized Hungarian population. The data collection and database cleaning have been done by a group of researchers from Demographic Research Institute in Hungary and it is part of the European project Generations and Gender Program (Speder, 2001).
For this paper, we restrict our analysis to the females sub-sample and we used mostly the variables related to the family formation and childbearing. We employed descriptive statistics, F and chi square tests and Cox regression models to analyze the data. Cox regression is a semi-parametric method that investigates the effect of a set of factors on the timing of an event (dependent variable) will happen (Allison, 1995). It allows both time dependent and fixed covariates as independent variables. Time dependent covariates are those who change their values over time-for example, when studying the hazard of entering a first union at different ages, the education level of the respondent also changes with age, so it is a time dependent covariate, while the ethnicity of the person is fixed covariate because it does not change with age. A Cox regression model with m time independent variables and n time dependent variables may be written like this:
log h(t) = a(t) + [b.sub.1][x.sub.1] + ..+ [b.sub.m][x.sub.m] + [c.sub.1][y.sub.1] (t) + .. + [c.sub.n][y.sub.n] (t)
where h(t) is the hazard rate of an event occurring at time t, a(t) may be any function of time, [x.sub.l] - [x.sub.m] are the time independent covariates and [y.sub.l] (t) - [y.sub.n] (t) are time dependent covariates.
In order to understand the choices of first union formation, we estimated three types of models (Figure 1) using Cox regression.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Model 1a and 1b: Transition to the first union (Single direct to Married, and Cohabiting)
Model 2: Dissolution of the first cohabitation (Cohabiting direct to Married, and direct to Single)
Model 3: Transition to the first marriage controlling for cohabitation (Single through Cohabiting to Married)
Obs. The dotted (--) transitions are not analyzed in this paper.
For models 1a and 1 b, the dependent variable studied is the transition to the first union with two possible end states: cohabitation and marriage. The time line is the age of woman measured in months, from the age 15 until she enters into a union or she reaches age 45 (we censored all cases at 45, since there were very few unions over 45). All cases for which the union occurred before age 15 were deleted.
In model la, we model the transition to the first union, where first union is either marriage or cohabitation. Model lb is a competing model with two possible states (cohabitation and marriage): women can choose only one of the two possible states. The time line for both models is the woman age in months, between 15 and 45.
With model la and lb, we are able to test some of the hypotheses regarding relationship between cohabitation and marriage and the influence of education on the propensity to enter the first union. If cohabitation is an alternative to marriage and the decline in the marriage rates can be explained by the increase in the cohabitation rates, then in our model of entering the first union (Model 1 a) the cohort coefficients should not be significant (women who do not choose marriage, choose cohabitation instead, so they enter anyway into a form of union). Also, the cohabitation and marriage would be influenced in similar ways by the coefficients--as people who tend to enter marriage are also those who tend to enter the cohabitation.
With model 2, we want to test whether cohabitation is a step toward marriage. The dependent variable in this model is the transition to marriage and we included cohabitation among the covariates: if cohabitation is a step toward marriage, than those who cohabit should have higher propensity toward marriage (controlling for other relevant factors).
The dependent variable studied in model 3 is the dissolution of cohabitation with two possible end states: marriage and splitting without marrying. The time line is the duration of cohabitation in months. To model the dissolution of cohabitation, we estimated a competing risk model with two states (marriage and splitting without marrying). If cohabitation is just a step toward marriage, then it should be a short term, transitory relationship that ends with a marriage. This model will clarify for which groups cohabitation serves as a step toward marriage rather than a replacement of marriage.
In our analyses, we focused on both macro level and individual level factors. For individual level factors, we distinguished between three groups that can have an influence on the union choices made by respondents: family background, SES and life stage factors (Table 1).
Table 1. Model covariates. Covariate name Covariate type Definition Two parent family Individual level- Static, dummy variable, 1 if the family background origin family of the respondent was a two parent family until the age of 16 Roma ethnicity Individual level- Static, whether or not the familybackground respondent is of Roma/Gypsy origin, 1 for Roma/Gypsy, else 0 Number of Individual level- Static, 1 - if the respondent has siblings familybackground 2 or more siblings, 0 otherwise Vocational school Individual level- Time variant, people with or less SES vocational school and those who did not attend or finished high school College Individual level- Time variant, people college SES education Educational Individual level- Time variant, whether or not the activity life stage woman was in school at a particular age Regular paid work Individual level- Time variant, whether or not the life stage respondent was in the workforce at a particular age Pregnancy Individual level- Time variant, whether or not the life stage woman is pregnant First child Individual level- Time variant, measuring whether life stage or not a woman has at least a child Cohabitation Individual level- Time variant, whether the life stage respondent is cohabiting (we use this variable only in selected models) Age Individual level- Age at the beginning of life stage cohabitation (we use this variable only in selected models) Cohortl925 Macro level Static, 1- if the person was born during 1925-1934,0 otherwise Cohortl935 Macro level Static, 1- if the person was born during 1935-1944,0 otherwise Cohortl945 Macro level Static, 1- if the person was born during 1945-1954, 0 otherwise (reference category) Cohort l955 Macro level Static, 1- if the person was born during 1955-1964,0 otherwise Cohort 1965 Macro level Static, 1- if the person was born during 1965-1974,0 otherwise Cohortl975 Macro level Static, 1- if the person was born during 1975-1984,0 otherwise
Among the family background covariates, the characteristics of origin family (two parent families vs. single parent families) had been shown to influence the union formation patterns of people (Kiernan, 1992). In the Rroma/Gypsy group we included all respondents who declared that they are Rroma/Gypsy or Hungarian of Gypsy origin (218). In the non-Gypsy group, 8573 are Hungarians. It is well known that Rroma groups, all over Eastern Europe, have a different perspective on family formation than other ethnic groups (Barany, 2003). In this study, the 'ethnicity' variable is based on auto-identification (that is, the respondent declared his/her ethnicity), not on hetero-identification (the interviewer identifies the person as part of a certain ethnic/racial group). Because of the fear of discrimination, or because they no longer identify with this ethnic group, Rroma origin people sometime do not identify themselves as 'Rroma' or 'Gypsy' (Covrig, 2004). In our study, we consider that those who declared Rroma/Gypsy ethnicity are more likely to follow the Gypsy group behavior, so they are much less inclined to adopt the demographic behavior of the majority. If indeed the Rroma/Gypsy group has a different perspective on marriage and cohabitation, the people who self identified as Gypsy would be those to display it. We used the number of siblings as an indication of the origin family poverty level. The reason for using this measure is that, generally, poor people tend to have more children. This indirect measure has been used in other studies as well (Kulik, 2005).
Individual level SES was measured by education. Vocational school and college were time variant covariates derived from the respondent's history of education. The reference category is high school or post high school, but no college (in Hungary, as well as in other Eastern European countries, there is the possibility to attend a 2-3 years school after high school to train for various applied jobs such as nurses and technicians. These are not colleges, and these programs are not run by the universities). We built the history of education by using the information available from the questionnaire (highest level of education, year when the highest level had been achieved, if the person attends or not a school at present and what type of school the respondent attends we estimated the variation of education at various ages). We calculated the mean age at final degree for those respondents who were not currently in education, and using these means we calculated the levels of education at various age (for those who answered to all the questions). We checked our values with official statistics on age at graduation in Hungary. If a woman is in school (at the moment of interview), she is considered in school for the whole period of time.
Regular paid work variable is based on the questions regarding the respondent employment. The rational for using this variable is that getting a job is an important sign of maturity, and one of the first steps toward independence from the parental household. A person with some work experience has more financial resources and is more able to enter into a union than somebody with no experience on the job market.
Pregnancy is defined here as a continuous event from two months pregnant until delivery. Pregnancy can often trigger a (accelerated) marriage (shotgun marriages). Regarding the first child, in the questionnaire there was no information on who is the father for those born outside of marriage (current or previous partner). We expect to observe a negative effect on transition to marriage for women that have already had their first child--if the couple wanted to marry, they rather would have done it during the pregnancy than after the birth of the first child.
For the macro level factors we used the cohort memberships (for a description of this variable, see Table l).The cohort l945 (people born between 1945 and 1954) was the reference category for cohorts in all models. We have chosen this as a reference category because this group had relatively few disturbing societal events during their reproductive lifetime. They were born after the Second World War, they were only 11 years or younger in 1956 when the Hungarian revolt took place and they were around 40 years old when the societal changes began in 1990. We did not include religiosity and place of residence in the analysis because it is measured only at the time the interview. There was no information available from which we could infer a history of residence or of the religiosity level. Also, other studies done with a similar sub sample of data (Kulik, 2005) found religiosity as playing only an insignificant role in the family formation patterns.
With a total first marriage rate of 0.4 per person, total divorce rate of 0.4 and with about one third of children born outside marriage, Hungary is not an extreme case among the European countries (Graphic 1 and 2). However, what characterizes Hungary (as well as the other Eastern European countries) over the last decade is a dramatic increase in the divorce rate, out of wedlock births and a decrease in the marriage rates (Graphic 3). It was in the late 1980s when this trend began,: with the post-socialist transformation the economy collapsed, resulting in a steep decline in the standard of living. At the same time Western social behavior patterns, including those related to family formation, became models for many Eastern Europeans (Kulcsar, 2007). Although the data on cohabitation are much scarce than those on marriage, some census statistics show that, during 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of cohabiting couples (Carlson & Klinger, 1987).
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Our data show that, over time, there is a dramatic increase in the proportion of women who ever cohabitated: from 8.6% for those born in the 1930s to 37.5% for those born in the 60s (Table 2) (2). This implies that the number of cohabitations would increase in the future, as the younger generations are more and more willing to enter into this type of union.
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Table 2. Percentage of Those Who Ever Cohabitated, On Cohorts. cohorts Ever lived into 1925- 1935- 1945- 1955- 1965- 1975- Total number a cohabitation 1934 1944 1954 1964 1974 1984 of cases yes (%) 5.08 8.62 15.05 19.23 37.52 29.43 1749 no (%) 94.91 91.37 84.94 80.77 62.48 70.57 6970 Total number 1081 1414 1634 1430 1495 1665 8719 of cases Source: Gender and Generations Survey for Hungary, wave 1 (Turning points of the life course, 2001) authors' computations
While the percentage of cohabitation increases over time, the age at which the first cohabitation was formed decreased, from 38.9 for those born in 1935-1944 to 21.6 for those born during 1965-1974. The variation within cohorts decreased as well: the cohortl935 has a standard deviation of 12.02, cohortl965 has a standard deviation of 4.06. This shows that, over time, an increasing group of women in Hungary began entering into cohabitation at younger and more similar ages. In terms of education, for the cohortl935, about 9% of those with vocational training and less and the same proportion of those with college education ever entered into cohabitation. For the cohortl975, 38% of those with vocational training and less and only 29% of those with college have ever entered into cohabitation.
Among the older cohorts, those entering for the first time into cohabitation were more mature women who already have been married at least once (72.3% of the cohort1935 were married before). However, the large majority of the women from younger generations tend to enter into cohabitation before going into marriage (only 7.2% of the cohort1965 has been married before entering into cohabitation) (Table 3). This shows that more and more young women tend to choose cohabitation rather than marriage as a first union.
Table 3. Distribution of Marital Status At The Beginning Of The First Cohabitation. cohorts Married before 1925- 1935- 1945- 1955- 1965- 1975- Total cohabiting 1934 1944 1954 1964 1974 1984 number of valid cases yes (%) 43.6 72.3 48.6 26.5 7.2 1.2 350 no (%) 56.4 27.8 51.4 73.5 92.8 98.7 1398 Total number of valid cases 55 122 245 275 561 490 1748 Source: Gender and Generations Survey for Hungary, wave 1 (Turning points of the life course, 2001), authors' computations.
In Table 4 we estimated two Cox regression models: the first one (first column, model la) estimates the influence of the independent variables on the transition to the first union, the second one (last two columns) is a competing risk model, estimating the transition to direct marriage versus cohabitation.
Table 4. Transition To The First Union. (Cox regression, the time line is the woman's age in months) Hazard ratios First union Direct Cohabitation (cohabitation marriage and marriage) Macro level factors cohortl925 0.91 * 0.95 0.33 *** cohort 1935 0.99 1.03 0.29 *** cohortl945 (ref.) 1 1 1 cohortl955 1.00 0.94 2.11 *** cohortl965 0.85 * 0.60 *** 5.64 *** cohortl975 0.56 *** 0.20 *** 7.52 *** Individual factors Educational activity (no educational activity 0.58 *** 0.59 *** 0.50 *** - ref.) Vocational school or less 0.92 0.96 0.72 ** high school and posthigh 1 1 1 school, no college (ref.) College or university 1.32 ** 1.27 * 1.33 Number of siblings (less 1.03 0.99 1.27 *** than 2 siblings- ref.) Pregnant for the first 15.39 *** 17.00 *** 5.37 *** time (2-9 month) Having a first child 149 *** 1.38 *** 2.25 *** Has taken up regular 1.48 *** 1.54 *** 1.28 ** paid work Roma ethnicity (not 1.41 *** 0.97 2.37 *** Roma -ref.) Two parent family 1.13 ** 0.99 1.67 *** (yes - ref.) ***: p < .001 **: p < 0.01 *: p < 0.05 Source: Gender and Generations Survey for Hungary, wave 1 (Turning points of the life course, 2001), authors' computations
The results for the first model (Table 4, first column, model la) show that the cohorts born in 1965 and after tend to refrain from entering into a first union (reference category: cohort 1945-1949). As the second model shows, it is actually the marriage that the younger cohorts avoid, while they are significantly more likely to enter into cohabitation as a first union.
Being in school is a significant factor in decreasing the tendency to enter into a first union, and it has the same effect on both cohabitation and marriage. This is not an unexpected result shown by a number of studies done in various countries (Hoem, 1986; Blossfeld & Huinik, 1991). Being a college educated woman increases the tendency toward entering a first union/direct marriage (reference category: high school). Women with a college degree are more 'attractive' on the marriage market than women of the similar age but without a college degree.
The number of siblings is not a significant factor for entering into a first union; however, it increases the tendency toward choosing cohabitation as a first union instead of marrying. Children coming from families that experienced a divorce/disruption tend to enter into cohabitation rather than marriage. The literature had shown that parents divorce has a long term influence on children, which is proved again by these results.
Being pregnant increases tremendously the tendency toward entering into a first union and choosing marriage rather than cohabitation. Having a first child also increases the tendency toward entering into a union--taking into account that this is the woman's first union, it is likely that the union is formed with the child's father. Although the percentage of out of wedlock births in Hungary increased from 1990 to 2004 from 13% to 34%, marriage and childbearing are still connected and a woman who chooses to cohabit or stay out of a union is probably a woman who will postpone having children.
Women who are already in the workforce have a higher tendency toward entering a first union. Having a job is basically having the financial means to build a family/relationship and these women might be more attractive in the marriage market. Obviously it depends on the employment situation of the spouse or partner, but in contemporary Hungary it is very difficult to sustain a household with a single earner.
For the youngest cohort employed in these data (cohort l975), the risk of entering into a marriage is five times lower than for older cohort (cohort 1945) while the risk of entering into cohabitation as a first union is seven times higher. Similarly, the cohort 1965 has around five times higher risk of entering into cohabitation and about 60% lower risk of entering a marriage in comparison with the cohort 1945 (Table 3 and 4).
Women of Gypsy ethnicity have a higher than average tendency to enter a first union; however, they prefer to enter into cohabitation rather then marriage.
The results in Table 5 confirm that the younger generations tend to refrain from marriage (coefficients for cohort l965 and cohort l975 are less than 1 and significant). Educational activity (being in school) is again a significant factor in preventing women from marrying. Women with a college degree tend to have higher propensities toward entering the marriage while those with vocational schools or less have a lower tendency. The effect of these three factors shows that, while women are still in education and did not get any final degree yet, they tend to abstain from marriage. The reason for this is that they are most likely still financially dependent of their parents and cannot afford marrying until they have a more stable situation. Being in the workforce is a significant factor in increasing the propensity to marry, as financially independent women are more willing to enter into a marriage. Being pregnant also increases the likelihood of marriage. Being in a cohabitation is also a significant, positive factor toward marrying, which shows that, at least for some groups, cohabitations serves as a first step toward marriage.
Table 5. Transition to First Marriage, Controlling for Cohabitation. (Cox regression, the time line is the woman's age in months) Hazard ratios Transition to marriage Macro factors cohort l925 0.96 cohort 935 1.04 cohort l945 (ref.) 1 cohort 1955 0.93 cohort 1965 0.54 *** cohort l975 0.24 *** Individual factors Educational activity (no educational activity -ref.) 0.60 *** Vocational school or less 0.91 * High school or post high school, no college (ref.) 1 College or university education 1.29 ** Cohabiting 2 ** Number of siblings (less than 2 siblings- ref.) 0.99 Pregnant (2-9 month) 3.33*** Having a first child 0.97 Has taken up regular paid work 1.56 *** Roma ethnicity (not Roma-ref) 0.88 Two parent family (yes-ref) 0.96 ***: p<.001 **: p<0.01 *: p<0.05 Source: Gender and Generations Survey for Hungary, wave 1 (Turning points of the life course, 2001), authors' computations.
Table 6 shows that, for younger generations, cohabitation is rather a replacement than a transitory state toward marriage: those who enter into cohabitation tend to stay there and they refrain from transforming the relationship into a marriage (the coefficients for cohort 1965 and cohort l975 are lower than 1 and significant). Educational activity also decreases the propensity toward marriage, although it has no effect on the dissolution of cohabitation. Those with vocational school or less education tend to stay in cohabitation, and refrain from marriage which supports the results from model 1 and 2. Being pregnant and having a job make women more prone to end the cohabitation and to enter into marriage-again, a result that is in line with models 1 and 2. The older a woman enter into a first cohabitation, the more likely she will stay longer there, and the less likely is that she will marry.
Table 6. Dissolution of the First Cohabitation. (Cox regression, the time line is the duration of cohabitation in months) Hazard ratios Cohabitation Transition to disruption marriage Macro factors cohort l925 1.00 0.73 cohort l935 0.74 0.65 cohort 1945 (ref.) l l cohort 1955 1.01 0.95 cohort l965 0.74 * 0.64 ** cohort l975 0.64 *** 0.41 * Individual factors Educational activity (no educational 1.00 0.80 * activity -ref.) Vocational school or less 0.71 *** 0.69 ** High school or post high school, no 1 1 college ((ref.) College or university education 1.22 1.06 Age at the beginning of 0.996 ** 0.995 *** cohabitation Number of siblings (less than 2 siblings- 0.98 1.00 ref.) Pregnant (2-9 month) 3.85 *** 5.45 *** Having a first child 0.91 1.03 Has taken up regular paid work 1.49 *** 1.49 *** Roma ethnicity (not Roma -ref.) 0.82 0.82 Two parent family (yes - ref.) 1.00 1.00 ***: p<.001; **: p<0.01; *: p<0.05 Cohabitation disruption: Number of cases = 1128; Number of events = 829 Transition to marriage: Number of cases = 1128; Number of events-543 Source: Gender and Generations Survey for Hungary, wave 1 (Turning points of the life course, 2001), authors' computations
The political and economic changes of the late 1980s have a significant effect on the life course of people living in Hungary. Living in a world much more exposed to the behavioral patterns of Western countries, the younger generations tend to follow a different life course path then their parents. Cohabitation has an increasing presence among various groups in Hungary, especially among the younger generations. While for the older cohorts in Hungary, cohabitation was preferred by only a very small, marginal group, for the younger cohorts cohabitation became an important choice, and after the age of 26 the risk of getting into cohabitation is almost equal with the risk of getting into a marriage (results not shown). We can expect to see more cohabitating couples in the future, because the average age at marriage increases, and in the late twenties cohabitation is already an equally attractive form of union. For younger cohorts, cohabitation seems to work as a replacement for marriage (at least until the woman gets pregnant), although within each cohort there are specific groups that use cohabitation just as a transitory state toward marriage.
The cohorts become also more heterogeneous: although there is a general increase (between older and younger generations) in the percentage of those ever cohabiting for all educational groups, the increase is higher for the low educated groups than for those who are highly educated. The ethnicity is another factor that makes a difference in terms of marriage outcomes. Being a Rroma/Gypsy increases significantly the risk of entering into a union (Table 4) and they tend to have much higher incidence of cohabitation than the other groups (56.7% of them have experienced cohabitation, while only 19.1 of ethnic Hungarians and 16.7% of the other have ever been in a cohabitation). Gypsies have their own rules and regulations; the marriage often has to be approved and recognized by the Gypsy community and not necessarily by the state, so it might be the case that their 'cohabitations' are actually marriages that are not recorded officially (Barany, 2003). This is one of the groups for which cohabitation is a replacement for marriage, although it is not a new phenomenon, and it is true for other Gypsy communities in Eastern Europe as well.
Women enrolled in education tend to avoid entering into any type of union. This result is in line with what studies had shown for other European countries (Blossfeld & Huinink, 1991). It is often too difficult to deal with both the role of being a student and being in a committed union, so many people enter the union after they finish their school years. In Hungary, being in higher education can also be a way to avoid unemployment, which again reflects uncertainty about future prospects, especially if the particular training leads to an occupation with less possibility for employment. Our results show that, for the Hungarian case, females increasing level of education is an important cause in delaying marriage and, implicitly, childbearing.
Being in the workforce increases significantly the risk of entering a first union, both cohabitation and marriage. Entering into a partnership implies financial responsibilities that can be fulfilled by having a job. It shows that the new home economics hypothesis (arguing that working women are less likely to marry) does not apply to Hungary: having a job is an incentive to marry. In this context, being in cohabitation is rather a sign of uncertainty, a temporary situation until the financial situation permits long-term commitments to be made.
Level of education is an important factor in determining the timing of transition to a first union and the increasing disparities among the educated and uneducated women in terms of family formation patterns in Hungary are in line with those observed in other Eastern European countries (Kantorova, 2004; Koycheva, 2006). The results for Hungary show that women with higher level of education are more able or willing to marry than their less educated counterparts. Less educated women tend to stay in cohabitation or to split without marrying (results not shown). It is probably because the less educated do not have the means for marrying, so once they enter a cohabitation they will stay there, and have children there.
Pregnancy significantly increases the risk of entering into a union (about 18 times for marriage and 5 times for cohabitation). It is not actually clear what is the direction of causation is in this case: whether women who find themselves pregnant enter quicker into a union, or they let themselves to get pregnant because they know they will enter into a union soon. However, being pregnant is the most powerful variable in all the models, and it strongly pushes people into unions.
Being born into a family that experienced divorce/ union disruption has a significant influence on the risk of entering into cohabitation, but it does not significantly influence the transition to the marriage. There are a number of possible explanations for this (Bukodi, 2003). Individuals coming from broken families might have fewer resources or might be more cautious seeing their parents' example. They might get out of parental control sooner in their life-course, and start family formation earlier with the more flexible form. As the divorce rate is going up, and there are more children bom in cohabitations, the significant influence of this factor on the risk of subsequent cohabitation shows that, in the future, there will probably be a rise into the cohabiting couples.
Age is playing a significant role in the cohabitation process: women who enter cohabitation later in life tend to keep longer the cohabitating status. It might be that cohabitation is not exactly what they want, but it is all they were able to get. This also argues for the continuing prevalence of cohabitation among divorced and widowed individuals.
In this paper, we showed that, while there is a general tendency among the young generations in Hungary to start their union life with cohabitation, the more educated women still prefer marriage versus cohabitation. Although the number of children born outside of marriage increased over the past years in Hungary, women who get pregnant wish to have their children within a marriage. Marriage in contemporary Hungary is an institution in transition and our research shows that the trend toward fewer marriages and more cohabitations is not going to stop anytime soon.
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Cristina Bradatan *
Laszlo Kulcsar **
* Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, MS 41012, Holden Hall 158, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409-1012, USA.
** Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, 255-B Waters Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, 66506, USA.
(1) While working on this paper author Bradatan was a postdoctoral fellow at Max Planck Institute for Demography, Laboratory of Contemporary European Fertility and Family Dynamics. She is grateful to Jan Hoem for offering her the opportunity to work with these data and to Hill Kulu, Gerda Neyer and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions and comments on this paper. We also want to thank C. Gotea and F. Riosmena for translating the abstract The research is part of the Demographic and Social Change in Eastern Europe program (http://www.k-state.edu/sasw/kpc/eedemo/).
(2) We did not compare the youngest (born in 1975 and after) with the oldest (1925-1934) cohort, because of the bias introduced by selection: the oldest cohort are affected by mortality, while the youngest cohort is still at the beginning of the reproductive life.…