Partner relationships in the Netherlands: new manifestations of the Second Demographic Transition

Jan J. Latten, Clara H. Mulder


Partnership formation has rapidly and profoundly changed in theNetherlandssince the 1960s.Several scholars have placed these changes in the context of the Second Demographic Transition. We describe the main trends in the formation and dissolution of partnerships in theNetherlandsbetween the 1960/1970sand 2010 and specifically address the trends from 2000 onwards. To what extent do these trends signal a new stage in the Second Demographic Transition? The data come from the Dutch population register, the Netherlands Fertility and Family Surveys of 2003 and 2008, and are analyzed using descriptive methods. By 2010 first marriages continue to decrease, marriage is open to same-sex couples and registered partnership has been introduced as an additional marital status. Unmarried cohabitation has become the standard way to start a co-residential partnership, and a long-term living arrangement for many. It is no longer rare but quite common for unmarried couples to have children, and two-mother families are now part of the spectrum of living arrangements. Divorce has been supplemented by the break-up of unmarried unions and co-parenting has been institutionalized. Based on these findings we argue that the Second Demographic Transition has by no means ended but proceeds in new ways in theNetherlands.

Jan J. LATTEN, Professor of Social Demography, University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Department of Human Geography, Planning & International Development Studies, and Plantage Muidergracht 14-16, 1018 TV Amsterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail: J.J.Latten@uva.nl. And Statistics Netherlands, PO BOX 24500, 2490 HA Den Haag, The Netherlands, jltn@cbs.nl.     

Clara H. MULDER, Professor of Demography and head of the Population Research Centre, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. E-mail: c.h.mulder@rug.nl.


Second Demographic Transition; marriage; cohabitation; partnerships

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ISSN: 2035-5556

Reg. Tribunale di Roma n. 3321/54