English title: Married and cohabiting parents' well-being: The effects of a cultural normative context across countries

Author(s): Olga Stavrova - Detlef Fetchenhauer -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2015


Research of personal relationships has typically linked childbearing in cohabiting (compared to married) couples to decreased well-being. Using data from 24 European countries, we show that this effect is not universal; rather, it is restricted to countries with a strong social norm that proscribes childbearing in cohabiting unions. We examine two potential mechanisms of this effect; the personal norm (cohabiting parents are worse off because their status deviates from their own expectations) and social norm (cohabiting parents are worse off because they experience external social sanctions, such as social disapproval) mechanisms. Our results provide support for the social norm mechanism. First, the detrimental effect related to a country’s social norm exists even for cohabiting parents who personally favor childbearing in cohabiting couples. Second, in countries with a strong norm against childbearing in cohabiting unions, cohabiting parents feel that they are less respected than married couples, which contributes to lower levels of life satisfaction.

Volume: 32

Issue: 5

From page no: 601

To page no: 632

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1177/0265407514541072

Journal: Journal of Social and Personal Relationships

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