New and emerging family forms around the globe

Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics, Barcelona 21-23 March 2018

Short summary

New patterns of family formation are emerging around the globe. In some regions, such as Europe and the Americas, cohabitation and childbearing within cohabitation have increased rapidly over the past few decades, sometimes reflecting a long tradition of nonmarital unions. In other areas, such as China, Japan, Israel and the Philippines, cohabitation is just starting to emerge, surprising scholars who thought that the marital regime was immutable. Yet the ways in which these new family behaviors are emerging differs dramatically depending on context. In some countries, for example Sweden and Norway, marriage is often postponed until after childbearing, while in others, such as Japan and China, premarital cohabitation has increased, but nonmarital childbearing is still considered a taboo. And in other parts of the world, cohabitation may be a marginal behaviour, but marriage is changing in other ways, possibly being delayed or foregone due to modern social and economic realities.

The emergence of these behaviors may have implications for individuals and societies. The rise of cohabitation and separation may lead to greater life uncertainties, and potentially exacerbate inequality. Increases in non-marriage may leave a larger group disaffected and vulnerable, especially at older ages. As a consequence, recent patterns of partnership formation may be having substantial effects on not only on population composition, but also on future well-being. On the other hand, the new behaviors may be a reaction to changing social norms, shifting values, and/or increased globalization. Changes in the family may simply be part of the normal process of societal development – indeed reflecting greater gender equality – and not a cause for alarm. Further research is needed to provide insights into the underlying explanations for the new trends and to what extent these changes are altering societies.

This panel will bring together researchers from around the world to discuss these new behaviors and their consequences. The panel follows up on the IUSSP nuptiality panel (2011-2015), which convened conferences on first union patterns and divorce and produced two special collections. The nuptiality panel covered a wide variety of behaviors, but emphasized changes in the tempo and quantum of more conventional behaviors (e.g. marriage and divorce). We will focus on more flexible forms of partnerships, such as cohabitation, living-apart-together relationships, and repartnering. The panel’s main goal is to address theoretical explanations for changes in family formation in cross-national perspective, and to assess the consequences for populations and societies. Overall, we aim to gain a better understanding of which explanations are universal and which are unique.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

09:30-10:00 Introduction to the Workshop

Medea Kabamalan (University of the Philippines)

10:00-11:30 Global trends in marriage and cohabitation I

  • How have pro-natalist values and rising nonmarital fertility shaped fertility trends in the Philippines? A mixed methods exploration

Bernice Kuang (University of Southampton)

  • Explaining marital Patterns and Trends in Mongolia

Naranchimeg Baatar, (National University of Mongolia)

  • Marriage, cohabitation and fertility as family formation pathways in South Africa

Nompumelelo Nzimande (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

11:30-12:00 Coffee Break

12:00-1:30 Global trends in marriage and cohabitation II

  • Female Headed Families in India

Ankita Chakrabarti (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

  • Intergenerational Patterns of Family Formation in sub-Saharan Africa: Does Context Matter?

Oluwaseyi Somefun (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)

  • Prevalence and Social Determinants of Premarital Cohabitation in China

Jia Yu (Peking University)

1:30-3:00 Lunch

3:00-5:00 Cohabitation and Marriage in Comparative Perspective

  • Serial cohabitation in Germany: Determinants and Outcomes of Complex Partnership Histories

Nicole Hiekel (University of Cologne) Barbara E. Fulda (Technical University Chemnitz)

  • The Role of Family Law in Shaping Variation in Family Behaviour: Insights from the Swiss-French Border Region around Geneva

Sebastian Kluesener (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock)

  • How Does Cohabitation Change People’s Attitudes towards Divorce?

Martin Kreidl (Masaryk University),  Zuzana Zilincikova

  • Employment and the economic situation of cohabiting and married parents in European countries

Anna Garriga (Pompeu Fabra University), Xiaoteng Hu (Autonomous University of Barcelona)

5:00-5:15 Coffee

5:15-06:15 Discussion: New trends in Marriage and Cohabitation around the World

8:30 Dinner at Barcelona, place to be decided.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

9:30-11:00 Romantic Relationships

  • Fatherhood and the Progression of Romantic Relationships

Sharon  Sassler (Cornell University)

  • Marriage, Romanticism and Sexuality: On Navigation among Young Educated Females in the Paradoxical Landscape of Iran

Farideh Farahani (Iran)

  • Discussion on changes in romantic relationships

11:00-11:30 Coffee

11:30-1:00 Singlehood

  • Permanent Singlehood and Motherhood in Argentina and Uruguay

Georgina Binstock (Centro de Estudios de Poblacion) and Wanda Cabella (Programa de Población, Universidad de la República)

  • Gender-role ideology, labour market setting and new family forms:  The case of life-long singlehood in Europe

Daniela Bellani and Bruno Arpino (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

  • Rethinking the “Retreat from Marriage” in Japan

James Raymo (University of Wisconsin at Madison)

  • Discussion on main themes on emergence of lifelong Singlehood

1:00-2:30 Lunch

2:30-4:00 LATs & Same-sex marriage

  • Towards a typology of commitment in LAT relationships

Ann Evans and Edith Gray (Australian National University)

  • LAT Relationships among Canadian Young Adults

Lisa Strohschein (University Of Alberta)

  • Same-sex marriage in Europe

Maks Banens (Université Lyon 2)

4:00-4:15 Coffee

4:15-5:15 Summary and Synthesis

Brienna Perelli-Harris (University of Southampton)

5:15-16:15 Discussion and New directions for research

8:30 Dinner at Barcelona place to be decided


Friday, March 23, 2018

Panel discussion on

1) What are the important new trends? (anything missed in the workshop?)

2) Towards a systematic appraisal of the factors underlying these trends

3) Book or grant possibilities


Hotels at Barcelona near Plaza Catalunya
There is no official Hotel for the event but is highly recommended to be near Plaza Catalunya.
Here some choices:


  • Access by train

    With Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC– Government of Catalonia Railways)

    The FGC lines stopping at the Universitat Autònoma station are the S2 (Barcelona-Sabadell) and S6 (Barcelona-Universitat Autònoma). The trains run every 6 minutes (minimum) and 15 minutes (maximum). Have in mind that 2 zones ticket is required.

    Route from the Universitat Autònoma station to the CED:

    At the station, walk along the platform in the same direction as the train, exit through the automatic gates using your ticket and continue along the raised bridge and path until reaching the CED building. The walk is no more than five minutes.




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