Radboud University (RU), Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Marital instability has increased markedly in all European countries, causing household dissolution and the formation of single-parent households as well as many new complex household structures of reconstituted families. These complex marital household dynamics are generally considered to have adverse effects on the well-being of small children and may even have negative carry-over effects in later life, in terms of health, educational performance, as well as marital and social success. Family instabilities, however, are not entirely new; in the European past family dissolution and reconstituted families were frequent phenomena. Understanding the complex relationships in the past between marital and household instabilities and children’s well-being in later life, and, above all, the variation in these relationships, will help a better understanding where Europe might move in the future.
This project is aimed at understanding the relationships between marital and household instabilities experienced by small children and their later life outcomes in terms of social and marital success, and life expectancy. One of the key questions will be whether different national, regional or family cultures provide ways to back up the negative effects of family instabilities. The more collectivistic culture of southern European countries may be expected to counter the effects on small children of marital and household instabilities in more adequate ways through the extended family system compared to children in the northern European countries.
The work in this project involves the construction of typologies of ‘instable childhood careers’, as well as ‘later life trajectories’ and regional and familial typologies. The project is interested in discovering regional and social differences, and whether or not children were part of extended family networks. To what extent did the later life trajectories of children from ‘instable families’ differ in terms of social and marital success, and in life expectancy. How did their integration in extended family networks dampen potentially negative effects of marital dissolution, and can we relate these patterns to later life outcomes? Some of the databases involved in the Network allow for the simultaneous study of individual life courses and the extended family network.
Empirically, the ESR will develop ways to arrange complex data files at the individual and the household level. Conceptually, the ESR will develop a comparative set of definitions and typologies that can be used to tackle changes over time at the individual level as well as at the family and the household level, and the relationships between these two. This presupposes the ability to think in terms of multiple interlinked processes. Analytically, the ESR will develop statistical skills to disentangle the web of relationships involved in these interlinked processes. This project intends to use data from the Netherlands, Finland, Spain, Italy and Belgium. The project deliverables are reports on concepts and algorithms, to be integrated in a more substantive dissertation on an comparative history of children’s early experiences of marital and household instabilities and later life success.
The expected results are:
13.1. Concepts. Definition of household and family instability that can be used comparatively; devise typologies of households and families; devise a typological system of children’s household careers over time, by region.
13.2. Research design. A PhD research design, personal development plan (course followed at NW Posthumus Institute).
13.3 Tools for household dynamics. Tools to explore household careers statistically, e.g. based on sequence analysis.
13.4 Visualization of household dynamics. Tools to visualize these individual and household careers.
13.5 Multilevel modelling of household dynamics. Tools to explore the relationships between household careers and children’s outcomes through complex multilevel modelling.
13.6 Research report, multilevel modelling of household dynamics. Report on family and household dynamics in relation to the well-being of small children in five countries.
Matthias Rosenbaum-Feldbrügge holds a BA degree in Philosophy & Economics from Bayreuth University (Germany) and a MSc degree in Economic Demography from Lund University, Sweden. He wrote his quantitative master thesis on labor market integration of immigrants in Sweden. His PhD project aims to gain a greater understanding about the later lives of individuals that experienced the death of a parent during childhood. Outcomes of interest are social mobility, marriage behavior and later-life mortality. The project is interdisciplinary in nature as it combines longitudinal data and demographic methods with theories derived from distinct disciplines such as sociology, epidemiology and evolutionary biology in order to study life and death of a historical population.
Link to his ResearchGate profile here.