The Emergence of Dual-Earner Couples: A Longitudinal Study of the Netherlands

Wouter van Gils, Gerbert Kraaykamp

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In this article, the authors address the extent to which full-time working couples in the Netherlands have gone through compositional changes with respect to young children and educational level. Using a stacked data set of 13 large-scale labour force surveys collected by Statistics Netherlands ranging from 1977 to 2002 (N = 461,003 Dutch households), the authors first studied whether the increase of full-time working couples is a result of cohort and/or period effects. It is concluded that the steady growth of full-time working households is mainly accounted for by cohort succession: in couples from younger birth cohorts, both partners increasingly prefer to work full-time. Second, the study investigated the composition of those full-time working couples. As a starting point, it is clear that full-time working couples are mostly found among those with a higher educational level and without any children. For this composition, the authors’ analyses show that over time and cohorts the educational level of full-time working couples increases more than that of male single-earners or combination households. Most important is that the negative effect of having young children for full-time working couples became more negative over cohorts, indicating that combining children and full-time work as a couple has become less attractive in recent cohorts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345
Number of pages1
JournalInternational Sociology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • demographic and social change
  • full-time employment
  • couples
  • compositional change
  • cohort analysis

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