Stepfamilies then and now: Building a database on children’s experiences of family complexity in the 20th century

This project develops a child-oriented database linking contemporary and historical data with which the impact of family disruption on children’s life courses can be analyzed and compared over time. The project provides new insights in the emerging field of family complexity, builds new collaborations between disciplines (demography and history) and KNAW institutes (NIDI and IISH), and contributes to the national and international data infrastructure with a unique open-access database.

The analysis of this innovative dataset is guided by three substantive research aims: (a) to provide a detailed description of the demographic and socioeconomic determinants of divorce, widowhood, early single parenthood, and stepfamily formation from the perspective of children; (b) to analyze the consequences of divorce, widowhood, early single parenthood, and stepfamily living for children, in particular their own life course transitions and their socioeconomic achievement; (c) to analyze how the process of intergenerational transmission is affected by stepfamily living.

For the historical part of the sample, data from the Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN) will be used in conjunction with the LINKS data set. For the contemporary part of the sample, we use the OKiN survey, which is a large-scale survey among adult children aged 25-45 in 2017.

Yuxuan Jin is conducting his PhD project “The early death of a parent: consequences for partners and children” within this project. The main focus is on early widowhood. His first paper is to examine the impact of the early parental death on children’s educational outcomes and the moderating role of parental socio-economic status using the administrative register data in the Netherlands. 

This project is supported by the Onderzoeksfonds KNAW-instituten 2021.

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