The Pluralisation of Living Arrangements – A Continuous Trend?


  • Michael Wagner University of Cologne, Institute for Sociology and Social Psychology
  • Isabel Valdés Cifuentes University of Hamburg, School of Economics and Social Sciences, Department of Socio-Economics



Pluralisation, Living arrangements, Household, Family, Entropy


This paper investigates to what extent a pluralisation of living arrangements can be observed in Germany up to the present day – both on the household level as well as the individual level. The analyses are based on data from the microcensus and the German General Social Survey (ALLBUS) from the last decades.

On the household level, eight different living arrangements are distinguished depending on the marital status and the number of generations living in the household. The results show that pluralisation mainly occurred between 1972 and 1996. In contrast, the diversity of living arrangements in West Germany has remained unchanged during the last 20 years, and it even slightly decreased in East Germany. A different picture emerges when separately looking at one-generation and two-generation households. Living arrangements with children have also diversified in recent years, which is mainly the result of less married couples with children.

On the individual level, the classification of living arrangements was extended by the characteristic gender-specific division of labour, since the changed role of women is seen as the crucial factor for the changes in the familial sector. The results indicate a continuous pluralisation of living arrangements. This pluralisation of the familial sector is mainly caused by the male breadwinner model losing importance. This trend is more pronounced in East Germany than in West Germany.

A cohort analysis reveals a bimodal distribution of diversity on the age-axis: entropy is highest around the ages of 30 and 60, since living arrangements often change at these points. Individuals often marry around the age of 30, and the transition to an “empty nest” mostly occurs around the age of 60. The cohort analysis for different age groups shows that the diversity of living arrangements is generally higher amongst younger cohorts than amongst older cohorts.



How to Cite

Wagner, M. and Valdés Cifuentes, I. 2014. The Pluralisation of Living Arrangements – A Continuous Trend?. Comparative Population Studies. 39, 1 (Mar. 2014). DOI:



Research Articles