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Synopsis

This book deals with the process of the diffusion of cohabitation in Europe and discusses its impact upon fundamental changes in family formation. It makes use of highly dynamic statistical modelling that takes into account both changes occurring along the life course (individuals’ biographies) and across birth cohorts of individuals (generational change) in a comparative perspective. It is thus innovative methodologically, but is written in such a way as to be easily readable by those with little knowledge of quantitative methods. The approach proposed is empirically tested on a selection of European countries: the social democratic Sweden, the conservative-corporatist France and West Germany, the former socialist East Germany, and the familistic Italy and Spain. The theory and its application are described in a clear and simple manner, making the arguments and their illustrations accessible to those from a variety of disciplines.

The study shows evidence of the ‘contagiousness’ of cohabitation, providing new insights on a process relevant to many social science debates. It is thus directed to those interested in the mechanisms driving social and cultural change, the nature of demographic changes, as well as diffusion processes.

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