Union Formation, Within-Couple Dynamics, and Child Well-Being in Global Comparative Perspective
Ewa Batyra1, Andres Castro2, Luca Maria Pesando3, Frank Furstenberg1, Hans-Peter Kohler1
1University of Pennsylvania, 2Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, 3Department of Sociology and Centre on Population Dynamics, McGill University

Studies on global changes in families have expanded massively over the past decade, taking both a context-specific and –increasingly so– a cross-national comparative perspective. While most of these studies are focused on drivers of global family change, little comparative research has delved into the health and wellbeing implications for subsequent generations. This study fills this gap by exploring intergenerational associations between union-formation and within-couple dynamics and children’s health and well-being across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), both globally and regionally. We do so by adopting a multi-axis conceptualization of children’s outcomes– health at birth, health in later life, and schooling – and leveraging Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) across 75 LMICs. Despite a series of “expected” regularities, our preliminary results highlight some unexpected findings whereby more stable or gender-balanced partnerships are not necessarily “protective” of children in LMICs, underscoring the peculiarity of the latter group of countries vis-à-vis high-income societies.