Sexuality and Family Formation

  • Elina Haavio-Mannila
  • Anna Rotkirch


In this chapter, we compare key areas affecting sexuality and family formation in six European regions. We have attempted to retain internal divisions especially in Eastern Europe, which are often overlooked. Nevertheless, our results point to the continuing relevance of the East−West division. We compare different indicators in the Nordic, Western, Eastern Central European, and Eastern Mediterranean European countries as well as the former Soviet Union countries. The data were collected from international statistics and comparative surveys conducted in the early 21st century. While many countries are showing signs of converging development, Europe is still divided by the classic, “vertical” Trieste-Petersburg line. Early entry into parenthood and quasi-universal marriage rates are more common East of this line, while later entry into parenthood but also fertility rates characterise the Western part. Additionally, three horizontal “belts” of family formations emphasise gender equality in the North, individual autonomy in Central Europe, and traditional family values in the South. There are crucial tensions between each of these three concepts: freedom, tradition, and gender equality. Complete sexual freedom may be opposed to gender equality, while great marital and reproductive choice does not always lead to stable and traditional families.


Gender Equality Nordic Country Marriage Rate Maternal Employment Sexual Initiation 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.The Family Federation of FinlandThe Population Research InstituteHelsinkiFinland

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