Attitudes to divorce and non-marital partnerships and individuals’ experience of partnership formation and dissolution: structural equation modelling of reciprocal associations

Peter W.F. Smith, University of Southampton
Ann Berrington, University of Southampton
Patrick Sturgis, University of Surrey

There is much anticipation about the contribution that panel data, e.g. from the UNECE Gender and Generations Programme, could make to our understanding of demographic processes. This paper demonstrates the additional insight that panel data on attitudes and socio-demographic circumstances provide to our understanding of the reciprocal relationships between individuals’ demographic experiences and their attitudes about family life. Data from the 1998-2002 sweeps of the British Household Panel Survey are used to examine the causes and consequences of attitudes to divorce and non-marital cohabitation. We quantify the selection of individuals into marriage and divorce on the basis of these attitudes, and the way in which attitudes are adapted following the experience of marriage or divorce. By using structural equation models (SEM) and the Mplus software we model these selection and adaptation effects simultaneously. Mplus also permits us to include binary and ordinal variables into SEM and deal with the complex survey design of the BHPS.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 73: Various methods