M.D. (A) B Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute and
VU University Amsterdam
J H Stockholm University
Parental Education and Family Dissolution:
A Cross-National and Cohort Comparison
This is the rst study to systematically analyze
whether the association between parental
education and family dissolution varies
cross-nationally and over time. The authors use
meta-analytic tools to study cross-national vari-
ation between 17 countries with data from the
Generations and Gender Study and Harmonized
Histories. The association shows considerable
cross-national variation, but is positive in most
countries. The association between parental
education and family dissolution has become
less positive or even negative in six countries.
The ndings show that the association between
parental education and family dissolution is
generally positive or nil, even if the association
between own education and family dissolution
is in many countries increasingly negative.
Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, The
Hague (NIDI/KNAW), University of Groningen, P.O. Box
11650, 2502 AR The Hague, Netherlands (email@example.com).
Department of Sociology, VU University Amsterdam, De
Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Sociology, Stockholm University,
Sociologiska institutionen, Demograska avdelningen 106
91 Stockholm, Sweden.
© 2018 The Authors. Journal of Marriage and Family pub-
lished by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of National Coun-
cil on Family Relations.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribu-
tion and reproduction in any medium, provided the original
work is properly cited.
Key Words: cross-national research, divorce, intergenera-
tional, parental education.
The authors nd suggestive evidence that the
association is related to the crude divorce rate,
but not to the generosity of the welfare state
in these countries. The implications of these
ndings for understanding the stratication in
family dissolution are discussed.
Advantaged family backgrounds pave the way
to higher education, higher incomes, and better
health (Breen & Jonsson, 2005; Elo, 2009).
Higher socioeconomic backgrounds are also
related to many favorable family demographic
outcomes, such as postponement of childbear-
ing beyond adolescence (Dahlberg, 2015) and
marriage with highly educated partners (cf.
Schwartz, 2013). Do favorable family back-
grounds also beget family stability and the
benets associated with it? Recent research has
paid much attention to the growing educational
disparities in family dissolution (e.g., Amato,
2010; Härkönen & Dronkers, 2006; McLahanan,
2004), but this interest has not been matched by
a similar focus on family dissolution patterns
by parental educational background. Because of
the importance of family background on indi-
viduals’ future life chances, this omission limits
our understanding of the social stratication in
Previous studies on the association between
parental education and family dissolution have
produced intriguing ndings. In contrast to the
increasingly negative association between own
education and family dissolution in many soci-
eties (Härkönen & Dronkers, 2006), many stud-
ies have found a positive association between
426 Journal of Marriage and Family 80 (April 2018): 426–443