Volume 32 - Article 8 | Pages 251–286

Why do intimate partners live apart? Evidence on LAT relationships across Europe

By Aart C. Liefbroer, Anne-Rigt Poortman, Judith Seltzer

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Date received:11 Mar 2013
Date published:28 Jan 2015
Word count:9958
Keywords:Europe, GGS, households, living apart together (LAT), partner relationships
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2015.32.8
Weblink:You will find all publications in this Special Collection “New Relationships from a Comparative Perspective” at http://www.demographic-research.org/special/19/
 

Abstract

Background: Most research asks whether or not cohabitation has come to rival marriage. Little is known about the meaning of living apart together (LAT) relationships, and whether LAT is an alternative to marriage and cohabitation or a dating relationship.

Objective: We examine across Europe: (1) the prevalence of LAT, (2) the reasons for LAT, and (3) the correlates of (a) LAT relationships vis-à-vis being single, married, or cohabiting, and (b) different types of LAT union.

Methods: Using Generations and Gender Survey data from ten Western and Eastern European countries, we present descriptive statistics about LATs and estimate multinominal logistic regression models to assess the correlates of being in different types of LAT unions.

Results: LAT relationships are uncommon, but they are more common in Western than Eastern Europe. Most people in LAT unions intend to live together but are apart for practical reasons. LAT is more common among young people, those enrolled in higher education, people with liberal attitudes, highly educated people, and those who have previously cohabited or been married. Older people and divorced or widowed persons are more likely to choose LAT to maintain independence. Surprisingly, attitudinal and educational differences are more pronounced in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe.

Conclusions: A tentative conclusion is that LAT is more often a stage in the union formation process than an alternative to marriage and cohabitation. Yet some groups do view LAT as substituting for marriage and cohabitation, and these groups differ between East and West. In Eastern Europe a cultural, highly educated elite seems to be the first to resist traditional marriage norms and embrace LAT (and cohabitation) as alternative living arrangements, whereas this is less the case in Western Europe. In Western Europe, LAT unions are mainly an alternative for persons who have been married before or had children in a prior relationship.

Author's Affiliation

Aart C. Liefbroer - Nederlands Interdisciplinair Demografisch Instituut (NIDI), Netherlands [Email]
Anne-Rigt Poortman - Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands [Email]
Judith Seltzer - University of California, Los Angeles, United States of America [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

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» Generations and Gender Programme Wave 1 data collection: An overview and assessment of sampling and fieldwork methods, weighting procedures, and cross-sectional representativeness
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» Income pooling strategies among cohabiting and married couples: A comparative perspective
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» Timing of first union among second-generation Turks in Europe: The role of parents, peers and institutional context
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» "Living Apart Together" relationships in the United States
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» Trends in living arrangements in Europe: Convergence or divergence?
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