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Jürgen Dorbritz (2009)

Bilocal Couple Relationships – The Significance and Variety of a Living Arrangement*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 34, 1-2/2009, p. 31-56, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398, DOI: 10.1007/s12523-010-0032-3

Abstract: The goal of the study on bilocal couple relationships is to find detailed information on a living arrangement which has not yet received sufficient attention. To this end, the data from the first wave of the Generations and Gender Survey of the Federal Institute for Population Research have been evaluated. In order to obtain a differentiated analysis, two basic forms have been established, namely living apart together and long-distance relationships. In a first step, bilocal couple relationships were empirically described. It emerged that as a living arrangement they have a similar significance to nonmarital unions. It should be pointed out that they are extraordinarily heterogeneous. There are couples with highly frequent face-to-face contact, as well as those who rarely see one another. It is the living arrangement of young, single people in cities, but it is also entered into by older partners after a divorce or being widowed. Bilocal couple relationships are no longer exclusive and are practiced by all groups of society. The analysis was led by the formulation of four hypotheses which are settled in a context of individualisation theory. Firstly, bilocal couple relationships are a living arrangement in which emotionality is experienced at a distance. They are established voluntarily with a low tendency towards moving together and marrying. Secondly, there is hardly any desired fertility and even less tendency towards family formation. Thirdly, individuals in bilocal couple relationships are typified by particular attitudinal patterns favouring equality of the genders, acceptance of childlessness and rejection of the institution of marriage. Fourthly, the construction of the couple relationship, based on spatial distance, leads to a greater potential for conflict and more common intentions to separate. These four hypotheses were largely confirmed. Binary logistic regressions were calculated in order to examine the hypotheses.

* peer-reviewed article (original German title: Bilokale Paarbeziehungen – die Bedeutung und Vielfalt einer Lebensform)

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