MARITAL INTENTIONS AND REALIZATION AROUND THE GREAT RECESSION
Despite the persistence of the institution of marriage, analyses on marital intentions and their realization are relatively rare, especially in an international comparison. Moreover, most studies that look into the demographic consequences of the Great Recession concentrate on behaviour (often on fertility) and only few use individual-level panel data. Previous studies found reduced marriage rates and postponement as a result of the Great Recession. However, the question still remains: how did the recession affect marital intentions and their realization? Did socioeconomic differences in marital intentions increase during a period of economic hardship and uncertainty?
Three waves of the Generations and Gender Survey are used, supplemented with data from the fourth wave of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Survey and the fifth wave of the Turning Points of the Life Course Panel Survey for Hungary. We examine short-term marital intentions and their realization among cohabiting respondents aged 20–49 before, during and after the Great Recession with random effects models.
Results show that the level of marital intentions decreased during the recession in Hungary and France but remained stable in the Netherlands. During the crisis many couples postponed their wedding in Hungary but not in the other two countries. There may be an “inertia” of intentions that prevents postponement, or a coming recession may even speed up certain marriages (reduction of uncertainty). We also need to separate the immediate shock and the long-term impact of a prolonged recession.
We found a positive educational gradient and a lasting negative impact of the recession on the realization of marital intentions among low-educated respondents in Hungary, where marriage became a transition for the advantaged during the crisis. However, there seem to be no educational differences in any examined period in the Netherlands and France in intentions, implying that marriage is an individualized choice.