Previous research has shown that the number of children, their age and the timing of births relative to marriage are associated with the stability of the parental marital union. The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of children in this multidimensional association as a determinant of disruption in Italy, a country where this research question is particularly interesting because of the traditional vision of the family, in terms of formation and dissolution procedures, family and gender roles, and obligations among family members. The relative risk of marital disruption is estimated using some discrete time event-history models. As expected, the findings show that children born in the marriage have a large protective effect on marital stability, a sizeable portion of which is not due to the children’s age. Conversely, children born out of wedlock do not inhibit marital disruption, but neither do they increase the risk as they do in other countries. This is probably because of the type of reproductive behaviour widespread in Italy.
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