The southern European paradox revisited: union formation in Spain and Portugal

Teresa Castro Martin, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Marta Dominguez, IEG-CSIC, Spain

In this paper, we explore the relevance of the economic independence hypothesis to explain women’s union formation patterns in two Southern European countries, Portugal and Spain, which are characterized by recently achieved gender equality in the public sphere but asymmetrical gender roles within the family. During the past decades, both countries have undergone a profound process of modernization. Broad transformations in the economic, political and social fronts have brought about a radical change in the standard of living, life-style and attitudes of young generations. One of the most significant transformations has been the changing economic and social position of women, as reflected in their recently achieved parity with men in education and in their rapid incorporation into the labor force. Within the family, however, women remain primarily responsible for housework and caring activities. Our hypothesis is that given the divergent levels of gender equity that prevail in the public and private domains, high educational attainment will discourage marriage but encourage cohabitation, because the later entails less pressure to conform to traditional gender roles. For the descriptive analysis, we use data from the Spanish and Portuguese censuses conducted in 2001, as well as the ISSP Family and Gender Roles survey, 2002. For the multivariate analysis, we use the Fertility and Family Surveys for Spain (1995) and Portugal (1997), and employ event-history methodology to assess the effect of women’s education, employment and independent living spells on the likelihood of entering marriage, forming a cohabiting union or remaining single.

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Presented in Session 47: Gendering family dynamics network 2