Residential Mobility in Childhood and Union Dissolution Later in Life

Alon Pertzikovitz , Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) / KNAW/ University of Groningen
Sergi Vidal , Centre for Demographic Studies
Helga A. G. de Valk , Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) / KNAW/ University of Groningen

Existing literature suggests that childhood mobility may influence a range of life outcomes. So far, this literature is limited to outcomes that immediate follow the move and are usually situated in the United-States context. Little is known about how the frequency of moving in childhood is related to later life demographic family behavior in Europe. Drawing on retrospective moving and partnership histories from the Study of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), this paper examines whether moving in childhood relates to union dissolution in adulthood, and to what extent this relationship is explained by family stress. Based on the family stress model, accumulated stress and conflict that are associated with frequent residential mobility can eventually harm family ties and affect children’s interpersonal development, which can later be translated into worse relationship skills. We applied a logistic regression analysis to assess whether frequent residential mobility (three or more moves) from birth to age 17 is associated with subsequent union dissolution between ages 18-50, for individuals born between 1945-1965 in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. We then employed the KHB method to analyze the mediating role of family stress. Also, after controlling for background characteristics, adults who moved frequently in childhood were 60% more likely to dissolve their union than those who moved less often or not at all during childhood. Family stress partly mediates the association, explaining 12% of the effect. These results highlight the ways that spatial mobility—particularly frequent mobility—can contribute to the accumulation and reproduction of life disadvantages.

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 Presented in Session 41. Internal migration and family dynamics