• BAIER Tina (1)
  • ANETTE Fasang (1)
  • LEOPOLD Thomas (1)
  • FERRAGINA Emanuele (1)
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  • Article (4)
Findings on the mental health impact of the first wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in Europe are mixed and lack a comparative and longitudinal perspective. The authors used the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe and fixed-effects regressions to estimate within-individual change in the probability to report feelings of depression between 2005 and 2017 and directly following the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 11 European countries for adults ages 50 and older. The authors found an unprecedented decline in feelings of depression between 2017 and 2020 in all countries that was larger than any previous observed change. The probability to report feelings of depression decreased by 14.5 percentage points on average, ranging from 7 to 19 percentage points in Spain and Switzerland, respectively. Moreover, there were no systematic within-country differences by socioeconomic characteristics, chronic health conditions, virus exposure, or change in activities. These findings challenge conventional wisdom about the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has been much debate whether work and family lives became more complex in past decades, that is, exhibiting more frequent transitions and more uncertainty. Van Winkle and Fasang (2017) and Van Winkle (2018) first benchmarked change in employment and family complexity over time against cross-national differences in 14 European countries. Compared to sizeable and stable cross-national differences, the increase in employment and family complexity was small across cohorts. However, these studies could not include cohorts born past the late 1950s assumed to be most affected by the structural changes driving life course complexity and were limited to a relatively small set of West European countries. Objective: We replicate and extend these studies by adding over 15 additional countries in Eastern Europe and a decade of younger birth cohorts. Methods: The 3rd and 7th waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe, sequence complexity metrics, and cross-classified modelling are used to simultaneously quantify the proportions of variance attributable to cohort and country differences in work and family lives between ages 18 to 50. Conclusions: This study both replicates the original studies’ findings that cross-cohort change is minor compared to large cross-national differences, and is a substantive extension by addressing a large deficit of description on family and employment life course change in the Balkan and Baltic regions.


Studies have documented the negative association between divorce and women's economic wellbeing in several countries. Less is known about whether the effects of divorce on women's economic wellbeing, and their persistency, vary by family size. We present the first comprehensive assessment of how the short-term and medium-term economic consequences of divorce vary by family size. Using data from the US (PSID) and between-within random-effects models, we estimate changes in women's gross household income up to six years following divorce, stratified by the number of children in the household in the year of divorce. We add a comparative perspective using a harmonized set of socio-economic panel surveys from Australia (HILDA), Germany (GSOEP), and the UK (BHPS). Our findings demonstrate that the household incomes of women with three or more children decrease most drastically in the US, Germany, and the UK. In these countries, divorce widens the economic gap between child-rich households and those with no or few children. While childless women's incomes do not recover in the medium-term, incomes of mothers in Germany, the UK, and to a lesser extent the US partially recuperate. We demonstrate that differences in labor market attachment, and not remarriage, partially account for the family size differences we observe.


A behavioral genetics approach is used to test whether parental separation lowers the importance of genes for children's school performance. The Scarr–Rowe hypothesis, which states that the relative importance of genes on cognitive ability is higher for advantaged compared to disadvantaged children, has been expanded to educational outcomes. However, advantage/disadvantage is predominantly conceptualized as parental socioeconomic status and neglects other important factors. This study expands upon the literature to include family structure as an indicator for advantage/disadvantage. Data from TwinLife, a new population‐register‐based sample of twins and their families in Germany, and ACE variance decomposition models are used to estimate the heritability of cognitive ability (NPairs = 896), school grades (NPairs = 740), and academic self‐concept (NPairs = 949) separately for single‐parent and two‐parent households. Findings show that the relative importance of genes on children's cognitive ability and academic self‐concept is lower for children in single‐parent households compared to two‐parent households (32–47% and 23–50%, respectively), but differences are negligible for math grades (41–43%). ACE models adjusted for mothers' education and household income retrieve substantively similar results. The quality of the family environment that is important for the realization of children's genetic potential is not just shaped by socioeconomic status, but also family structure.