Divorce and separation trends in European countries

Michaela Kreyenfeld co-edits new book “Parental Life Courses after Separation and Divorce in Europe”.

In most European countries, divorce rates are stagnating at high levels but there is a lack of fine-grained data from official sources that map divorce and separation rates of couples with children over time, writes Hertie School Professor of Sociology Michaela Kreyenfeld in the introductory chapter to a new book, “Parental Life Courses after Separation and Divorce in Europe”, which she co-edited with German sociologist Heike Trappe of the University of Rostock.

The open access book brings together a number of landmark studies on divorce and separation in European countries, focusing on how divorce affects the lives of parents and children over time and how patterns vary across different countries. The studies are based on high-quality data from small and large surveys, administrative data and in-depth interviews.

“Almost all of the contributions in this volume emphasise that in order to understand post-separation behaviour, it is important to consider the life course, and, thus, the role of path dependency,” Kreyenfeld and Trappe write in their introduction.

Divided into four main areas, it covers the economic conditions of parents after divorce and separation, parent-child relationships, parent and child well-being, as well as the health-related consequences of divorce and separation. In particular, it uses several European studies to examine the effect of legal regulations and social policies on the lives of people who are divorced or separated, and the interplay of social policies and societal norms. For example, child-father contact is more intense in countries with policies that encourage shared parenting. In addition, the book takes a long-term perspective that helps compare and evaluate how pre-divorce conditions affect people’s lives and well-being later.

Read the book (open access) here.