Are Cohabiting Unions Lasting Longer? Two Decades of Change in the Duration of Cohabitation (1980-2004)

Esther O. Lamidi, Bowling Green State University

One of the most remarkable changes in family life in the past quarter century has been the growth in cohabitation. It is well established that cohabitation has become ubiquitous, the share of women in their early thirties who have ever cohabited nearly doubled from 40 percent in the late 1980s to nearly three-quarters in the late 2000’s (Manning 2013). A key defining feature of cohabiting unions is their relatively short duration; however, little empirical work has examined, as cohabitation become more common, the shift in the duration of cohabiting unions. Drawing on the National Survey of Growth, we examine the duration of two cohabitation cohorts spanning a twenty year period, cohabiting unions formed in 1980-1984 and 2000-2004. This study focuses on differentials in the stability of both premarital and postmarital cohabitation. The shifts in the duration of cohabitation are estimated based on marital history, presence of children, race/ethnicity, and education.

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 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households