The Influence of Educational Expansion on Partnership Stability: A Cohort Study of First Partnerships in Switzerland

Open access


This study examines the association between educational attainment and separation risks in marital or non-marital first partnerships to query the extent to which educational expansion has affected trends in partnership stability. Because the educational gradient in separation changed from being positive for women (and, to a lesser extent, for men) to being statistically non-significant at the same time as educational expansion took place, the latter can only serve as a minor explanation of the exceptional rise in breakup rates in Switzerland.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Amato Paul R. and Stacy J. Rogers. 1997. A Longitudinal Study of Marital Problems and Subsequent Divorce. Journal of Marriage and Family 59(3): 612–624.

  • Arránz Becker Oliver. 2015. Determinanten und Konsequenzen von Trennung und Scheidung. Pp. 527–561 in Handbuch Familiensoziologie edited by Paul Hill and Johannes Kopp. Wiesbaden: Springer.

  • Becker Gary S. 1981. A Treatise on the Family. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Becker Gary S. Elisabeth M. Landes and Robert T. Michael. 1977. An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability. The Journal of Political Economy 85(6): 1141–1187.

  • Bernardi Fabrizio and Juan-Ignacio Martínez-Pastor. 2011. Female Education and Marriage Dissolution: Is It a Selection Effect? European Sociological Review 27(6): 693–707.

  • Bukodi Erzsébet John H. Goldthorpe Brendan Halpin and Lorraine Waller. 2016. Is Education Now Class Destiny? Class Histories Across Three British Birth Cohorts. European Sociological Review 32(6): 835–849.

  • Conger Rand D. Katherine J. Conger and Monica J. Martin. 2010. Socioeconomic Status Family Processes and Individual Development. Journal of Marriage and Family 72(3): 685–704.

  • Diekmann Andreas and Kurt Schmidheiny. 2013. The Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce: A Fifteen-Country Study with the Fertility and Family Survey. Comparative Sociology 12(2): 211–235.

  • Diekmann Andreas and Kurt Schmidheiny. 2001. Bildung und Ehestabilität. Swiss Journal of Sociology 27(2): 241–254.

  • Ellwood David T. and Christopher Jencks. 2004. The Uneven Spread of Single-Parent Families: What Do We Know? Where Do We Look for Answers? Pp. 3–77 in Social Inequality edited by Kathryn Neckermann. New York: Russell Sage.

  • Erola Jani Juho Härkönen and Jaap Dronkers. 2012. More Careful or Less Marriageable? Parental Divorce Spouse Selection and Entry Into Marriage. Social Forces 90(4): 1323–1345.

  • FORS. 2015. Mikrozensus Familie (16.9.2015).

  • FORS. 2014. Swiss Household Panel User Guide (14.1.2015).

  • FSO (Federal Statistical Office). 2015. Erhebung Zu Familien Und Generationen – Fragebogen html (28.11.2016).

  • Goldscheider Frances Eva Bernhardt and Trude Lappegård. 2015. The Gender Revolution: A Framework for Understanding Changing Family and Demographic Behavior. Population and Development Review 41(2):207–239.

  • de Graaf Paul and Matthijs Kalmijn. 2006. Change and Stability in the Social Determinants of Divorce: A Comparison of Marriage Cohorts in the Netherlands. European Sociological Review 22(5): 561–572.

  • Grunow Daniela Florian Schulz and Hans-Peter Blossfeld. 2007. What Explains the Process of Traditionalization in the Division of Household Labor: Social Norms or Economic Resources? Zeitschrift für Soziologie 36(3): 162–181.

  • Härkönen Juho. 2015. Divorce in Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences edited by Robert Scott and Stephen Kosslyn. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons.

  • Härkönen Juho and Jaap Dronkers. 2006. Stability and Change in the Educational Gradient of Divorce. A Comparison of Seventeen Countries. European Sociological Review 22(5): 501–517.

  • Ivanova Katya Matthijs Kalmijn and Wilfred Uunk. 2013. The Effect of Children on Men’s and Women’s Chances of Re-Partnering in a European Context. European Journal of Population / Revue Européenne de Démographie 29(4): 417–444.

  • Jalovaara Marika. 2012a. Socio-Economic Resources and First-Union Formation in Finland Cohorts Born 1969–81. Population Studies 66(1): 69–85.

  • Jalovaara Marika. 2012b. Socioeconomic Resources and the Dissolution of Cohabitations and Marriages. European Journal of Population / Revue Européenne de Démographie 29(2): 167–193.

  • Jann Ben. 2007. Making Regression Tables Simplified. The Stata Journal 7(2): 227–244.

  • Jann Ben and Henriette Engelhardt. 2008. Halbe Kraft voraus? Arbeitseinsatz berufliche Segregation und Löhne von Frauen auf dem Schweizer Arbeitsmarkt. Pp. 38–59 in Ben Jann. 2008. Erwerbsarbeit Einkommen und Geschlecht – Studien zum Schweizer Arbeitsmarkt. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

  • Kalmijn Matthijs. 2013. The Educational Gradient in Marriage: A Comparison of 25 European Countries. Demography 50(4): 1499–1520.

  • Kalmijn Matthijs. 2010. Country Differences in the Effects of Divorce on Well-Being: The Role of Norms Support and Selectivity. European Sociological Review 26(4): 475–490.

  • Kalmijn Matthijs and Wilfred Uunk. 2007. Regional Value Differences in Europe and the Social Consequences of Divorce: A Test of the Stigmatization Hypothesis. Social Science Research 36(2): 447–468.

  • Killewald Alexandra. 2016. Money Work and Marital Stability Assessing Change in the Gendered Determinants of Divorce. American Sociological Review 81(4): 696–719.

  • Klein Markus. 2015. Educational Expansion Occupational Closure and the Relation between Educational Attainment and Occupational Prestige Over Time. Sociology 50(1): 3–23.

  • Klein Thomas. 2005. Sozialstrukturanalyse – Eine Einführung. Rowohlt: Hamburg.

  • Kopp Johannes Daniel Lois Christina Kunz and Oliver Arránz Becker. 2010. Verliebt Verlobt Verheiratet: Institutionalisierungsprozesse in Partnerschaften. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

  • Kuperberg Arielle. 2014. Age at Coresidence Premarital Cohabitation and Marriage Dissolution: 1985–2009. Journal of Marriage and Family 76(2): 352–369.

  • Leopold Liliya and Thomas Leopold. 2016. Maternal Education Divorce and Changes in Economic Resources: Evidence From Germany. SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research. Berlin (18.8.2016).

  • Lesthaeghe Ron and Karel Neels. 2002. From the First to the Second Demographic Transition: An Interpretation of the Spatial Continuity of Demographic Innovation in France Belgium and Switzerland. European Journal of Population / Revue Européenne de Démographie 18(4): 325–360.

  • Levy René Eric D. Widmer and Jan Kellerhals. 2002. Modern Family or Modernized Family Traditionalism? Master Status and the Gender Order in Switzerland. Electronic Journal of Sociology 6 (28.11.2016).

  • Lewis R. A. and G. B. Spanier. 1979. Theorizing About the Quality and Stability of Marriage. Pp 268–294 in Contemporary Theories About the Family: General Theories and Theoretical Orientations edited by Wesley R. Burr. New York: Free Press.

  • Liechti Lena (2014). Educational Inequalities in Maternal Employment: The Case of Switzerland 1970–2010. Zeitschrift für Soziologie 43(5): 361–378.

  • Liefbroer Aart C. and Edith Dourleijn. 2006. Unmarried Cohabitation and Union Stability: Testing the Role of Diffusion Using Data From 16 European Countries. Demography 43(2): 203–221.

  • Martin Steven P. 2006. Trends in Marital Dissolution by Women’s Education in the United States. Demographic Research 15(20): 537–560.

  • Martin Steven P. and Sangeeta Parashar. 2006. Women’s Changing Attitudes Toward Divorce 1974–2002: Evidence for an Educational Crossover. Journal of Marriage and Family 68(1): 29–40.

  • Maslauskaitė Aušra and Marė Baublytė. 2015. Education and Transition From Cohabitation to Marriage in Lithuania. The History of the Family 20(4): 563–578.

  • Matysiak Anna Marta Styrc and Daniele Vignoli. 2014. The Educational Gradient in Marital Disruption: A Meta-Analysis of European Research Findings. Population Studies 68(2): 197–215.

  • Nazio Tiziana and Hans-Peter Blossfeld. 2003. The Diffusion of Cohabitation Among Young Women in West Germany East Germany and Italy. European Journal of Population / Revue Européenne de Démographie 19(1): 47–82.

  • Ní Bhrolcháin Máire and Éva Beaujouan. 2013. Education and Cohabitation in Britain: A Return to Traditional Patterns? Population and Development Review 39(3): 441–458.

  • OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development). 2016. Gender Equality – Population Who Attained Tertiary Education by Sex and Age Group. Gender Equality. Paris: OECD (09.11.2016).

  • Puur Allan Leen Rahnu Ausra Maslauskaite and Vlada Stankūnienė. 2016. The Transforming Educational Gradient in Marital Disruption in Northern Europe: A Comparative Study Based on GGS Data. Journal of Comparative Family Studies 47(1): 87–110.

  • Rogers Everett M. 2003. Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Free Press.

  • Royston Patrick and Paul C. Lambert. 2011. Flexible Parametric Survival Analysis Using Stata. College Station: Stata Press.

  • Rusbult Caryl E. 1983. A Longitudinal Test of the Investment Model: The Development (and Deterioration) of Satisfaction and Commitment in Heterosexual Involvements. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 45(1): 101–117.

  • Salvini Silvana and Daniele Vignoli. 2011. Things Change: Women’s and Men’s Marital Disruption Dynamics in Italy During a Time of Social Transformations 1970–2003. Demographic Research 24(5): 145–174.

  • Schnor Christine. 2014. The Effect of Union Status at First Childbirth on Union Stability: Evidence From Eastern and Western Germany. European Journal of Population 30(2): 129–160.

  • Schnor Christine and Marika Jalovaara. 2017. The Increase in Non-Marital Childbearing and Its Link to Educational Expansion. Turku Center for Welfare Research Working Papers on Social and Economic Issues. University of Turku (7.2.2017).

  • Schwartz Christine R. and Hongyun Han. 2014. The Reversal of the Gender Gap in Education and Trends in Marital Dissolution. American Sociological Review 79(4): 605–629.

  • Schwartz Christine R. and Robert D. Mare. 2005. Trends in Educational Assortative Marriage From 1940 to 2003. Demography 42(4): 621–646.

  • Soons Judith P. M. and Matthijs Kalmijn. 2009. Is Marriage More Than Cohabitation? Well-Being Differences in 30 European Countries. Journal of Marriage and Family 71(5): 1141–1157.

  • Teachman Jay D. 2002. Stability Across Cohorts in Divorce Risk Factors. Demography 39(2): 331–351.

  • Verbakel Ellen. 2012. Subjective Well-Being by Partnership Status and Its Dependence on the Normative Climate. European Journal of Population / Revue Européenne de Démographie 28(2): 205–232.

  • Vitali Agnese Arnstein Aassve and Trude Lappegård. 2015. Diffusion of Childbearing Within Cohabitation. Demography 52(2): 355–377.

  • Wagner Michael Lisa Schmid and Bernd Weiss. 2015. Exploring Increasing Divorce Rates in West Germany: Can We Explain the Iron Law of Increasing Marriage Instability? European Sociological Review 31(2): 211–229.

  • Williams Deadric T. Jacob E. Cheadle and Bridget J. Goosby. 2015. Hard Times and Heart Break: Linking Economic Hardship and Relationship Distress. Journal of Family Issues 36(7): 924–950.

  • Xie Yu James M. Raymo Kimberl Goyette and Arland Thornton. 2003. Economic Potential and Entry Into Marriage and Cohabitation. Demography 40(2): 351–367.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.141
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.087

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 474 241 6
PDF Downloads 190 116 7