From tradition to modernity - Changing family patterns in Spain (1995-2006)
Political and Social Sciences Universidad Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, Spain
The main objective of this paper is to study the evolution of non traditional family patterns in Spain, analysing whether there is convergence with other European countries and with the predictions of the Second Demographic Transition. We are interested mainly on shedding some light on consensual unions, LAT relationships and divorce. The Spanish case is interesting as an example of a Southern European country, with its paradoxical co-existence of traditional families and lowest low fertility. In the nineties, public opinion polls pictured a society with quite tolerant attitudes towards new family forms, but according to previous studies, these living arrangements remained marginal and highly selective. However, those studies are based on outdated information (longitudinal analyses use the 1995 Family and Fertility Surveys and cross sectional evidence from the 2001 Census). Our hypothesis is that Spanish families are undergoing a process of individualisation and that less traditional behaviours are becoming more widespread and less selective.
We try to test it using a new dataset with retrospective information, which is the most updated source available (Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 2006). We use descriptive techniques and a cross sectional regression analysis to study the characteristics of current unions, combined with longitudinal analyses to study first union formation and union dissolution, and compare the results with those from previous studies. Our preliminary results show that Spanish family patterns are indeed changing, and that more than half of first unions for young cohorts are now non marital and less selective. Nevertheless, several structural limitations continue to play an important role as barriers to the diffusion of innovative family behaviours in this Southern European country.