Highly educated families often perform family behaviours by which they – or their children – gain resources (stable marriage, more time with children, higher mothers’ employment) while their lower educated peers more frequently engage in family behaviours which result in lower resources (union dissolution, less time with children, lower mothers’ employment). This pattern is particularly well documented for the United States. Over time, the divide in family behaviours between families with different education has moreover grown in this country and, along with it, children’s life chances have become increasingly unequally distributed. The US sociologist Sara McLanahan has aptly termed this trend “diverging destinies”. For Europe, on the other hand, the link between education and family behaviour is less clear. For example, in some countries, highly educated persons have higher divorce rates. Moreover, there is a lack of research for Europe on how the gap in family behaviour evolved over time between families with different educational backgrounds – in particular from a comparative perspective.
The FATE project studies changes in the educational divide in the past decades with respect to (a) living arrangements, (b) parents’ time spent with childcare and (c) parents’ employment across European countries.
Data and methods
The research questions of the FATE project will be addressed by means of quantitative methods. We will make use of several existing data sources, such as the EU Labour Force Surveys, the Generations and Gender Surveys or Time Use Surveys. Depending on topic and data availability, we will either apply a “small-n approach” by which 4–7 European countries are analysed in a common framework or a “large-n approach” by which more than 20 countries are included and the macro level context is integrated into multilevel models or macro level models.