N. Sánchez Gassen
- The increase in cohabitation and the role of marital status in family policies: A comparison of 12 European countries
- Journal of European Social Policy
- Volume | Issue number
- 25 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
The role of union status, or whether people are married, cohabiting or single, is seldom considered in welfare state research. This perspective, however, is important, since many welfare state policies focus on marriage and do not apply to unmarried cohabitants. This lack of legal regulation may render cohabitants vulnerable in moments when state support is needed. Since cohabitation levels are increasing across Europe, understanding the role of union status in welfare state policies is increasingly important. By analysing data from the European Social Survey and a self-constructed policy database, we answer three questions: (1) How many couples live in cohabitation across 12 European countries today? (2) Which rights do they have in different policy areas? and (3) How many couples, therefore, are covered or fall outside the scope of policies in their country? We find that cohabitation is often, but not always, more strongly regulated in countries with high cohabitation levels, leaving more cohabitants legally unprotected in some countries than in others.
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