Should I Stay or Should I Go? Effects of Covid-19 on Partnership Quality in Germany

Katja Köppen , Universität Rostock
Heike Trappe, Universität Rostock

This paper addresses the question of how the Covid-19 pandemic affects partnership quality in Germany. From a life course perspective, it is assumed that partnership quality varies over couples’ relationships leading to ups and downs. Therefore, our first aim is to demonstrate if and to what extent the impact of the pandemic on different measures of relationship quality deviates from ‘ordinary’ oscillations. Guided by assumptions of exchange theory and the theory of planned behavior, we expect that communication skills and a self-perceived fairness of the division of labor are key to a mutually benefitting relationship and a sense of control, which is particularly important under pandemic circumstances. Thus, our second goal is to quantify the changes in partnership quality during the pandemic and to identify some of the underlying factors. Taking full advantage of 12 waves of data and an additional Covid-19 survey of the German Family Panel enables us to follow partnered respondents over the course of their relationship prior to and during the pandemic and thus to grasp changes in partnership quality. Using different measures of partnership quality, such as general relationship satisfaction, scales on conflict, intimacy, and admiration allows us to give a nuanced account on its varying dimensions. Preliminary descriptive results for the age group 35-40 suggest a drop of relationship satisfaction for the time of the pandemic in 2020 compared to the two preceding years. Such a deterioration of partnership quality could not be observed for the same age group ten years earlier.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 28. Flash Session: Covid and the Family