Relationship formation

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Relationship formation in the AIFS library catalogue

How are the lives of families with young children changing?: the changing face of early childhood in the UK

Oppenheim C and Rehill J
London : Nuffield Foundation, 2020
This reports explores the changing nature of family life in the United Kingdom and its implications for young children's development and well-being. It reviews findings from surveys and research over the last 20 years on changing patterns of family fertility and formation, changing family context, employment and care, and the impact of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The findings show how family context and social and economic factors are combining to create a new environment for early childhood that is marked by inequality and insufficiently understood. Today's generation of under-fives is the first in which a majority are spending a large part of their childhoods in formal education and care settings and have parents who are both in paid employment.

De facto marriage: when ending a cohabitation costs as much as a divorce

Martinenghi F
Indooroopilly, Qld. : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2020.
There is much research into the whether the psychological and financial costs of divorce affect the stability of marriage - but what about for de facto couples? This paper investigates whether law reforms that increased the 'costs' of separation for cohabitating couples has also affected the formation and stability of these unions. The paper looks at the impact of the 2008 Family Law Amendment Act, which changed the way non-marital separation is settled and made the termination of a de facto relationship financially equivalent to a divorce. Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, the paper compares the duration of cohabitations started in the three years prior to the reform with those started in the three years after. The study finds that when terminating a cohabitation becomes as costly as getting divorced, the probability of starting a cohabitation and the duration of premarital cohabitation does not change, but new unions are more stable and existing cohabitants affected by the reform in their third year are more likely to split.

Nearly half of U.S. adults say dating has gotten harder for most people in the last 10 years: a majority of women say they have experienced harassing behavior from someone they went on a date with

Brown A
Washington, D.C. : Pew Research Center, 2020.
This report looks into Americans' attitudes toward dating and relationships and their personal experiences with dating. It presents findings from a survey 4,860 adults, conducted in October 2019. It looks at the number of single people looking to date, reasons for not dating, pressure to find a partner, openness to either a relationship or casual dates, common ways to meet potential partners, ease of finding people to date, reasons why for those who find it difficult, characteristics that are rejected, openness to a long-distance relationship, harassment during a date, receiving unwanted explicit images or being pressured for sex, looking up someone they're romantically interested in online, and experience 'ghosting' - that is, ending a relationship by suddenly not responding to calls or messages. The participants were also asked about their general attitudes about today's dating landscape, including views on riskiness of dating, impact of technology, challenges for men dating in the era of #MeToo, acceptability of premarital sex, having sex on a first date, open relationships, kissing without asking permission, and acceptable modes of breaking up with someone. As more Americans turn to online dating and the #MeToo movement leaves its imprint on the dating scene, nearly half of the participants - and the majority of women participants - say that dating has become harder in the last 10 years.

Convergence and difference : marriage and family life from a cross-cultural perspective.

Hewitt B and Churchill B
Halford, W Kim, ed. Van De Vijver, Fons, ed. Cross-cultural family research and practice. Cambridge, Mass : Academic Press, 2020: 85-131
The institutions of family and marriage are recognised across all societies and cultures, but they have seen much change in recent years and how they are defined is widely contested. This chapter explores cross-national differences in the prevalence and practice of marriage, including crude marriage rates, timing of marriage in the life course, the practice of child marriage, arranged marriages and the role of love in marriage, same-sex marriage, and divorce. The authors conclude that while marriage is an evolving institution, these changes do not necessarily suggest a convergence of marriage practices but rather that new family systems are emerging that are contributing to a greater diversity of family life worldwide. The chapter begins with a discussion of global explanations for cross-national differences in marriage, including world society theory, developmental idealism, family systems theory, the second demographic transition theory, and the gender revolution.

Couple relationships

Qu L
Southbank, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2020.
This paper highlights trends in marriage and cohabitation over the last forty years in Australia, as part of a series celebrating the anniversary of the Australian Institute of Families Studies. The fact sheet draws on Census data to look at trends in the marriage rate since 1901, the proportion of people who were married or had never been married at different age groups over the last 40 years, the median age of when people first marry, choice of marriage celebrant, the divorce rate, percentage of marriages preceded by cohabitation, and the proportion of people in a cohabiting relationship, by different age groups over the last 40 years. It also reports on community attitudes towards marriage and divorce and equal rights for same-sex couples, taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The rate of marriage has declined in Australia in recent decades, and combined trends in relationship formation and stability have led to a decline in the overall partnership rates. Nevertheless, most adults today are married or will marry during the course of their lives.

As millennials near 40, they're approaching family life differently than previous generations: three-in-ten Millennials live with a spouse and child compared with 40% of Gen Xers at a comparable age

Barroso A, Parker K and Bennett J
Washington, D.C. : Pew Research Center, 2020.
This report compares trends in family formation across the generations in America, focusing particularly on when and if young adults in the 'Millennial' generation are meeting the same milestones. Data is taken from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the U.S. Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) of approximately 60,000 households. In 2020, Millennials range in age from 24 to 39, a stage of life where marriage and parenthood have traditionally been common. This report looks at how Millennials are forming their own families - focusing on living arrangements, marriage rates and birth rates - and compares Millennials to previous generations at the same age: that is, Millennials in 2019, Gen Xers in 2003, Baby Boomers in 1987, and members of the Silent Generation in 1968. The analysis finds that Millennials are less likely to have achieved these milestones: they are less likely to have a family of their own than previous generations were at the same stage of life and are getting married and having children at an older age, if at all.

Contesting family-based violence : sole parenting possibilities and alternatives.

Hook G
Journal of Family Studies v. 26 no. 1 2020: 67-76
This article considers how negative portrayals of one parent families may discourage women from leaving a violent relationship. It discusses 'deficit constructions' of one parent families, reinforcement of the 'normality' of hetero-nuclear families, and the perception of choice for mothers in violent relationships when considering their options and what a happy life could look like.

Rainbow family formation and dissolution in Australia: a scoping review of the academic literature

Armstrong E and Fernandez Arias P
Cheltenham, Vic. : Centre for Better Relationships, Better Place Australia, 2019.
This report investigates what is known about how 'rainbow families' access and experience family law support services in Australia. It presents the findings of a scoping review of the Australian academic literature on LGBTQI+ parents' experiences of family formation and dissolution as they relate to family law services, as well as their experiences of specific services including family dispute resolution, mediation, and family counselling. It discusses: family formation in Australia; the cultural importance of biological connections; heteropatriarchal gender and parenting roles; the impact of heteronormativity; discriminatory experiences with health care providers; cultural and legal recognition as legitimate parents; the privileging of biological relationships; pathways to parenthood; surrogacy and sperm donation decision making; family dissolution and separation; and the reliance on hetero bionormative ideas during separation. Though the study identified that very little is known about rainbow families' experiences of separation and family law, the findings highlight the continued centrality of heteronormative ways of 'doing family' in Australian law, services, and society.

Living alone in Canada

Tang J, Galbraith N and Truong J
Ottawa, Ontario : Statistics Canada, 2019.
"This study uses the Census of Population and the 2017 General Social Survey on Family to examine the characteristics of the population living alone in Canada. The demographic, socioeconomic and housing characteristics of persons who live alone are examined, as well as their conjugal history, family relationships, and well-being indicators. The number of persons living alone in Canada has more than doubled over the last 35 years, from 1.7 million in 1981 to 4.0 million in 2016. Solo dwellers represented 14% of the population aged 15 and over living in private households in 2016, up from 9% in 1981. In recent decades, the number of persons living alone has grown fastest among adults aged 35 to 64. Reflecting this shift, persons living alone in 2016 were more likely to be male and separated or divorced than in the past ... Despite living alone in their usual place of residence, solo dwellers may nonetheless have close connections with loved ones: in 2017, the majority of these individuals had at least one child, and one-third of those aged 20 to 34 were in a Living Apart Together (LAT) relationship with a partner. Most young adults who lived alone in 2017 intended to either form a union or have a child in the future, suggesting that they consider this lifestyle to be a temporary arrangement."--Overview.

Family formation and labour market performance of young adults

Vera-Toscano E
The Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey : selected findings from Waves 1 to 17 : the 14th Annual Statistical Report of the HILDA Survey. Melbourne, Vic. : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2019: 112-125
This chapter looks at trends in how young adults leave home, get a job, and form a family. It compares how the lives of young adults have changed from 2001 to 2017, using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, for people aged 18 to 29 years of age. It provides information on: proportion of young adults living in the parental home by age and gender, returning back home, leaving home and relationship status, leaving home and employment or education participation, household types of young adults who have moved out of their parental home, young adults' family roles outside the parental home, marital status and dependent children of young adults by number of years living outside the parental home, proportion of young adults living in the parental home who are full-time students, labour force status and employment tenure by gender, proportion and years in casual employment, and trends in hourly wages. The share of young adults living with their parents has increased significantly since 2001, led largely by young women remaining at home longer - likely due to factors such as changes in the labour market and housing market and increased participation in post-secondary education. Accordingly, young adults are thus taking more time before entering into the family roles that have long defined adulthood.

Separation and post-separation parenting within lesbian and gay co-parenting (guild parented) families.

Gahan L
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy v. 40 no. 1 Mar 2019: 98-113
This article explores separation and post-separation parenting within 'guild parented families', a phrase used here to describe families of multiple gay and lesbian parents jointly co-parenting together. It draws on interviews with 6 parents from different multi-parent families who had experienced a separation within their family. The article provides insights into diverse family formation, differences from two-parent same-sex couples, the impact of a separation within a multi-parent family, and how families construct their new identity and arrangements after separation.

Fifty years of changing families : implications for income support.

Gray M, Qu L, Stanton D and Weston R
Saunders, Peter, ed. Revisiting Henderson : poverty, social security and basic income. Carlton, Vic. : Melbourne University Publishing, 2019: 67-88
This chapter provides an overview of some of the most significant changes to families in the last 50 years in Australia that have implications for the operation and design of the income support system. The chapter describe how common life course transitions and parental roles have altered, and outlines changes in households and family forms, including parental employment trends. It also discusses the extent to which government benefits contribute to the incomes of different types of families and households and the implications of such changes for the income support system. This chapter is one of a collection exploring issues in poverty and social security in Australia, following on from a conference marking the thirtieth anniversary of the landmark Henderson report of the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty.

Trends in partnering and fertility among the Indigenous population

Venn D and Crawford H
Canberra, ACT : Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, 2018.
This paper explores trends in family formation for Indigenous people in Australia over the last decade. Using Census data from 2006 to 2016, it examines the number and characteristics of Indigenous people having partners and having children, with particular focus on variations between Indigenous people living in remote and non-remote parts of Australia and by education level. Previous research has found that family formation patterns of Indigenous Australians differ from those of non-Indigenous Australians, with Indigenous people less likely to be living in a registered or de facto marriage and Indigenous women more likely to have children - and a greater number - than non-Indigenous women. However, educational levels and participation are known to affect these decisions, and Indigenous Australians have experienced rapidly increasing educational attainment in recent years. The findings of this paper in part reflect this trend. Teenage parenthood has reduced considerably, and an increasing proportion of Indigenous women are postponing childbirth from their teens into their 20s and 30s. However, there has been a very large reduction in partnering for 3 groups: people in remote areas, people with less than Year 12 education, and people in their 20s. Possible factors for these trends are briefly considered.

A demographic, attitudinal, and behavioral profile of cohabiting adults in the United States, 2011-2015

Nugent C and Daugherty J
Hyattsville, MD : National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2018.
This paper compares the characteristics and views of cohabitating, married, and single adults in the United States in the 18-44 age group. It makes national estimates based on data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), drawing on data for 2011-2013 and 2013-2015 from 8,292 women and 6,674 men. The paper considers differences in fertility, family formation, childbearing, and sexual behavior, and attitudes about sexual behavior, use of contraception, living together before marriage, marriage, divorce, single parenthood, and childbearing. Current cohabiters were more likely than both married and single people to be supportive of nontraditional family living arrangements, to have had their first sexual intercourse before the age of 18, and to have not received a high school diploma.

The influence of income and work hours on first birth for Australian women.

Kingsley M
Journal of Population Research v. 35 no. 2 Jun 2018: 107-129
This article adds to the evidence on socioeconomic differences on when mothers first have kids. Previous research on first birth timing has used education as a proxy for socioeconomic status; this article uses data on income and work hours. Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, it finds that higher weekly wages makes first-time motherhood more likely at an older age and less likely among younger women. In terms of working hours, part-time employment is significantly associated with having a child, regardless of age.

Geographic variation in parity progression in Australia.

Gray E and Evans A
Population, Space and Place v. 24 no. 2 Mar 2018: e2080
This article explores whether there are geographic variations in fertility across Australia. Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, it models the likelihood of women having a first, second, or third child by city, suburb, regional, or remote area location. Overall, the strong two-child norm in Australia persists, and is driven largely by age and relationship status rather than external variables such as geography. However, women living in smaller inner regional towns are more likely to have a first, second, and third birth, and women in capital cities and inner and middle suburbs are less likely to have a first birth. This may be related to housing size, with houses in outer suburbs and regional areas tending to be larger than houses in the inner and middle suburbs.

Poverty transitions in nonremote indigenous households: the role of labour market and household dynamics

Venn D and Hunter B
Canberra, ACT : Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, 2018.
This paper presents estimates on Indigenous people's entry into and exit from poverty in Australia. Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, it compares changes in poverty among Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in nonremote regions, and investigates the role of 'trigger events' such as changes in household size, the number of workers in the household, and labour income, and family life transitions. It finds that Indigenous people generally have higher entry and lower exit rates than non-Indigenous people, largely due to lower average household incomes and being therefore closer to the poverty threshold. Changes in household size also have a significant impact.

Youth homelessness and survival sex : intimate relationships and gendered subjectivities.

Watson J
Abingdon, UK : Routledge, 2018.
Drawing on the author's doctoral research, this book explores the use of 'survival sex' - or the exchange of sex for material support - by young homeless women. These women are exposed to situations in which survival can be impeded or assisted by playing out specific gender roles, providing insights into how gendered subjectivities are produced and performed through heteronormative relationships. Homelessness is not a gender-neutral phenomenon. Chapters include: youth homelessness, gender, and the significance of survival sex; young homeless women and the neoliberal subject; social capital, performativity, and gendered subjectivities in the homeless sphere; survival sex, stigma, and managing material conditions; survival sex and gender-based violence; intimate relationships, social exclusion, and belonging; and constructing authentic selves.

Graduate indebtedness: its perceived effects on behaviour and life choices - a literature review

de Gayardon A
London : Centre for Global Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education, 2018.
"Student debt has been rising over the past decades in many countries around the world, following the increased availability of loans to cover higher education expenses. In some ways this expansion is beneficial ... However, many observers are beginning to worry that student loan debt is overburdening young graduates; delaying the onset of important societal milestones, such as marriage, child rearing, and home ownership; and negatively affecting life satisfaction ... Indeed, the presence of student loan debt and its consequences for graduates may undermine some of the wider market and non-market benefits to individuals and society associated with higher education. This literature review was written to inform the research project 'The effects of student loan debt on graduates' financial and life decisions in the UK and USA' ... It gathers research evidence from the past 20 years on whether and how having student loan debt influences decisions made by graduates later in life. It describes the findings and methodological approaches of the existing research and identifies gaps in, and the limitations of, this body of literature. In addition to framing the empirical work to be conducted as part of our study, we seek to highlight research questions that remain unanswered and therefore help motivate our study. The research project focuses on student loan debt in England and the United States; therefore, our review here likewise focuses on empirical literature emanating from those two countries."--Introduction.

'Go forth and wrestle with the legal system' : some perceptions and experiences of lesbian parents in rural Australia.

Bacchus R
Australian Journal of Social Issues v. 53 no. 1 Mar 2018: 18-33
This article explores the views and experiences of lesbian parents living in rural Australia, regarding the decisions they made in creating their families, their expectations and understanding of their roles and relationships, their concepts of family and parenthood, and how they negotiate the complex legal frameworks under which they exist. It draws on interviews with a small sample of women.

Union dissolution decisions and childbearing in subsequent unions: a study of Australian panel data

Vidal S and Jarallah Y
Indooroopilly, Qld : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2018.
This paper adds to the research on childbearing patterns after marital dissolution, by exploring the associations between union dissolution and rates of first-time parenthood and parity progression in Australia. Data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey is used. The paper also tests the hypothesis that individuals initiate union dissolutions to leave unions that are not deemed appropriate for parenthood or for a rewarding family life and tries to identify the mechanisms that lead individuals to dissolve unions, re-partner, and have children. The findings indicate that while union dissolution in Australia is associated with lower rates of first-time parenthood, rates of parity progression are similar for both first unions and repartnerings. This suggests that re-partnering serves as a driver for continued childbearing and compensates for lost births from dissolution to some degree.

Census 2016 : location and education affects how many children you have.

Evans A and Gray E
ANU Newsroom 27 Jun 2017
Using new statistics from 2016 Australian Census of Population and Housing, this news item highlights recent trends in the nature of families in Australia. The census counted 6.1 million families in Australia in 2016. As well as the increase in cohabitation, there are also increasing numbers of people in an intimate relationship with a person with whom they do not live. This figure is hidden in the census however, and other research estimates that about 25% of the reported 'single' population are actually partnered. Couples reporting a same-sex relationship has also increased, up 39% from 2011. The census also reveals how having children is not distributed evenly across the population, with differences by location and education. Women are increasingly having fewer or no children - 17% of women aged 40-44 are childless.

How entry into parenthood shapes gender role attitudes: new evidence from longitudinal UK data

Grinza E
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2017.
"Attitudes of women and men about how paid and unpaid work should be divided in the couple largely determine women's earnings and career prospects. Hence, it is important to understand how people's gender role attitudes are formed and evolve over the lifetime. In this paper, we concentrate on one of the most path-breaking events in life: becoming a parent. Using longitudinal panel data for the UK, we first show that, in general, entry into parenthood significantly shifts women's attitudes toward more conservative views, while leaving men unaffected. We also show that the impact on women emerges only after some time from the childbirth, suggesting that attitudes change relatively slowly over time and do not react immediately after becoming a parent. Finally, we show that the impact gets large and strongly significant for women and men whose prenatal attitudes were progressive. In particular, we find that the change in attitudes for such individuals increases as the postnatal arrangements are more likely to be traditional. Overall, these findings suggest that the change in attitudes is mainly driven by the emergence of a cognitive dissonance. Broad policy implications are drawn."--Author abstract.

Marrying young: an exploratory study of young Muslim women's decision-making around early marriage

Prattis G and El Mattrah J
Clifton Hill Vic. : Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights, 2017
This study was developed in response to an observed increase in the number of young Muslim women in Australia choosing to marry at very young ages - under 18 and while still at secondary school. It investigates the factors leading to young women disengaging from education and employment, their aspirations, attitudes and expectations regarding marriage, the decision making process on when and who to marry, and the impact on health, psychosocial wellbeing, and community participation. The study draws on interviews with 16 Muslim women aged between 18 years to 52 years old and focus groups with 89 young women at school, 63 older women from the community, and 14 service providers. In many ways, examining early-marriage decision-making provides insight into what it means to be a young Muslim woman in Australia, and how these young women perceive themselves and the world they live in. The report concludes with recommendations addressing some of the issues surrounding early and forced marriage.

Family life.

Wilkins R
The Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey : selected findings from Waves 1 to 15. Melbourne, Vic. : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2017: 6-26
This chapter looks at four aspects of family life: the changing living arrangements of Australians, as described by the household types in which they live; fertility and fertility intentions, and how well fertility intentions predict actual fertility; receipt and payment of child support for children with separated parents; and child care use for children not yet at school. Data is taken from the first 15 waves of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, which were conducted between 2001 and 2015. Information is presented on: trends in household types, proportion of people in each household type if the proportion of the population at each age remained as it was in 2001, proportion of individuals for whom the household type changes from one year to the next, number of young adults living with their parents, fertility across the lifecycle, number of children ever had, intended number of children, intended fertility compared with actual fertility 10 years later, child support received and paid by separated parents, number of majority-care and minority-care parents, expected and actual annual child support payments, characteristics of recipients and payers of child support, duration of child support payments, use of paid child care, type of child care used, use by couple and single parents, expenditure on child care by family type and income, and difficulties in accessing or affording quality child care.

Trends in attitudes about marriage, childbearing, and sexual behavior: United States, 2002, 2006-2010, and 2011-2013

Daugherty J and Copen C
Hyattsville, MD : National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2016.
This report describes attitudes about marriage, childbearing, and sexual behavior among men and women aged 15-44 in the United States based on the 2002, 2006-2010, and 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) ... From 2002 to 2011-2013, there was an increase in the percentages of men and women who agreed with premarital cohabitation, nonmarital childbearing, the right for gay and lesbian adults to adopt children, same-sex sexual relations, and premarital sex for those aged 18. There was a decrease in the percentages of men and women who agreed with divorce. There was no change in the percentages of men and women who agreed with premarital sex for those aged 16. There was no change from 2006-2010 to 2011-2013 in attitudes regarding marriage, cohabitation and the risk of divorce, the necessity of having children for one's happiness, and raising children in a cohabiting union. Several of the attitudinal items varied significantly by age group for both men and women."

Marriage, penalized: does social-welfare policy affect family formation?

Wilcox W, Price J and Rachidi A
Charlottesville, VA : Institute for Family Studies, 2016
A substantial share of lower-middle-class couples with children in America receive government assistance - and many of these couples receive more generous support if they are unmarried. This 'marriage penalty' makes it more financially attractive for couples to cohabit rather than marry. This paper investigates whether the marriage penalties associated with means-tested policies in America affect family formation. It finds that these benefits do not discourage marriage among the poorest families, but marriage penalties may play a role in discouraging marriage among lower-middle-class families. Based on these findings, the paper argues that the federal government should consider strategies to address the marriage penalties embedded within social-welfare policies, with specific recommendations presented.

Life patterns: comparing the generations

Crofts J, Cuervo H, Wyn J, Woodman D, Reade J, Cahill H and Furlong A
Parkville, Vic. : Youth Research Centre, the University of Melbourne, 2016.
The Life Patterns study is following two generations of young Australians: one, a 'Gen X' cohort, who left secondary school in 1991, and another, a 'Gen Y' cohort, who left school in 2006. This report draws together longitudinal data from these two cohorts to provide the lens of social generation to understand some of the defining experiences of life. Sections include: goals and aspirations, education, employment, opportunities, finances and costs of living, and family and relationships. The report is illustrated with charts and case studies. The findings show that both generations have worked hard to balance the competing areas of their lives, and place high values on job security, full-time work, and the importance of family and personal relationships. A key difference between the groups is that the younger cohort are anticipating a longer and more unstable road through the job market and as such are weary of planning their work or family lives too far into the future.

Internal migration age patterns and the transition to adulthood : Australia and Great Britain compared.

Bernard A, Bell M and Charles-Edwards E
Journal of Population Research v. 33 no. 2 Jun 2016: 123-146
Life-course transitions are important drivers of mobility, resulting in higher levels of migration among younger adults. This article explores cross-national variations in internal migration, using data for Australia and Great Britain, comparing the influence of five key life-course transitions: higher education entry, labour force entry, partnering, marriage, and family formation.

The influence of income and hours of work on first birth timing for Australian men and women

Kingsley M
There is inequality in first family formation in Australia. It is important to understand inequality in first-birth timing because it is related to multigenerational disadvantage. This study investigates how income, as an indicator of inequality, is related to age at first birth, and how accounting for work hours affects the relationship. Using Australian panel data, and Cox regression models with time varying effects, this study examines the effect of income and hours of work on the hazard of first birth for females and males. The influence of gross weekly wages on the hazard of first birth is found to depend on age, with low incomes increasing the hazard at younger ages and higher incomes increasing the hazard at older ages. However, hours of work are found to influence first birth timing, indicating that working longer hours may be affecting the results. The relationship between income and first-birth timing changes once the influence of hours of work is removed, and hourly wages are examined instead. For men the pattern changes substantially with low incomes associated with higher first-birth risks at all ages. The results show that working longer hours for low wages confounds the effects of gross weekly wages on first-birth timing. The results suggest that there is inequality, as measured by labour income, in the timing of first family formation in Australia, and that including work hours is helpful in understanding the nature of this inequality. The study also highlights gender differences in the relationship between income and first-birth timing.
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