The Interplay of Having an Abortion, Relationship Satisfaction, and Union Dissolution


  • Kristin Hajek



Abortion, pairfam, Relationship satisfaction, Union dissolution


This study researches the associations between having an abortion, relationship satisfaction, and union dissolution. Empirical evidence on this topic is scarce, and there is a pronounced lack of studies analysing longitudinal data: Most previous studies have used data from women recruited from abortion clinics who are about to undergo an abortion, and therefore do not incorporate a prospective measure of relationship satisfaction pre-pregnancy. Panel studies, on the other hand, collect prospective data on various topics and allow for the estimation of more advanced models that can help identify causal mechanisms. Using data from the German Family Panel pairfam in combination with pooled logistic regressions, discrete-time event history models, as well as fixed effects regression models, this study compares relationships up to nine years before having had an abortion and eight years afterwards. The findings of the analyses can neither confirm that relationship satisfaction acts as a confounding factor that influences both the likelihood of terminating a pregnancy and union dissolution, nor as a mediating factor between having an abortion and union dissolution. A negative effect of having an abortion on relationship satisfaction appears to be only temporary. In the year of an abortion, relationship satisfaction decreases slightly. In the following years, a significant difference in relationship satisfaction to pre-abortion years is no longer visible. By using panel data, the temporal order of events can be retraced, resulting in the discovery that relationship satisfaction and union dissolution do not change drastically from pre-abortion values after having an abortion.

* This article belongs to a special issue on "Identification of causal mechanisms in demographic research: The contribution of panel data".




How to Cite

Hajek, K. 2021. The Interplay of Having an Abortion, Relationship Satisfaction, and Union Dissolution. Comparative Population Studies. 46, (May 2021). DOI:



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