Studying individual and conjugal trajectories in France: Scientific and methodological choices in the EPIC survey

By Wilfried Rault, Arnaud Régnier-Loilier, Paul Reeve

Why should we perform a new survey on couple formation in France at the beginning of the 21st century? And how should it be conducted? This article presents the foundations of the EPIC survey on individual and conjugal trajectories (Étude des parcours individuels et conjugaux, INED–INSEE, 2013–2014), which is the third major French survey on couple formation following one on the choice of a spouse (Le choix du conjoint, 1959) and another on couple formation (La formation des couples, 1983–1984). It was designed to fulfil several objectives: capture the diverse forms of conjugality in light of renewed definitions of what constitutes a couple; characterize individual and conjugal trajectories through a retrospective approach; study the factors associated with not having a partner; and shed light on separation as a process. The survey also explored phenomena that have arisen in the last three decades: the creation of the PACS (civil union), the recognition of same-sex unions, and the rise of online dating. The article then presents the making of the survey, from methodological choices (coverage, sample sizes, and administration) to the practical aspects of data collection in the field (number of interviewers, participation rate, and representativeness).

  • EPIC
  • survey
  • couple formation
  • conjugality
  • separation
  • methodology
  • France
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