Do your children or my children matter? A study on the association between common children and stepchildren and divorce among older couples in Sweden
In many Western countries, divorce among older age groups has slowly increased. One potential explanation is the increase in the diversity in family structures, such as a blend of joint children, stepchildren and stepgrandchildren. We investigate the link between multigenerational family complexity and later-life divorce (60+) in Sweden. Multigenerational family complexity includes the couple’s joint children/grandchildren and any children/grandchildren to whom one of the partners is a parent/grandparent, i.e., when the female partner, male partner or both partners have children/grandchildren from previous unions. Utilizing Swedish register data, we find that biological ties are stronger than step ties; couples with only joint children/grandchildren have the lowest risk of divorce in later life compared with all other family structures. We also find that “bridge” children decrease the risk of divorce for couples with joint children and where female partner has children from previous unions, and all couples who have “bridge” grandchildren, regardless of who is the stepchildren’s parent. Lineage patterns of family complexity in the third generation operate somewhat differently than in the second generation. We provide novel insights into how biological and step ties as well as maternal and paternal lineage across generations relate to the divorce risk in later life.
Divorce in old age: Predictors and consequences of late life divorce
Swedish Research Council for Health Working Life and WelfareFind out more...
Original titleDo your children or my children matter? A study on the association between common children and stepchildren and divorce among older couples in Sweden