Race Differences in Union Transitions among Cohabitors: The Role of Relationship Quality

Lauren Rinelli, Bowling Green State University

The union outcomes of cohabitors vary by race with Whites more likely to marry and Blacks more likely to remain cohabiting. The current study extends this line of inquiry by incorporating relationship features. Using couple-level data from the first two waves of the NSFH, we analyze Black and White cohabiting couples at the first wave for whom a follow-up was completed at the second wave (N = 333) to determine whether socioeconomic and fertility measures and relationship features account for the race differences in union outcomes using event history analysis. Cohabiting Black couples are about 20 percent less likely than cohabiting White couples to move into marriage. Black couples are more likely to remain cohabiting. The inclusion of relationship features (i.e., relationship quality and perceived costs and benefits) does not eliminate the race difference. Plans to marry and couple happiness both increase the odds of marrying versus remaining cohabiting. In contrast, relationship instability and higher levels of perceived costs of marriage lower the odds of marriage.

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Presented in Poster Session 1