Premarital Cohabitation and Marital Disruption across Time: New Results from the NSFH 3

Anna Cunningham, Ohio State University

Using data from Waves 1 and 3 of the National Survey of Family and Households (NSFH), I examine how the relationship between premarital cohabitation and marital disruption has changed over time. As cohabitation has become a common experience among many young adults, I wish to investigate if the association between cohabitation and marital instability has weakened across time. Recently, the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) completed data collection on a third wave of data (2001-2002), and conducted extensive interviews of the focal child of the main respondent (Sweet & Bumpass 2002). I compare between the two cohorts how cohabitation experiences prior to marriage affect marital disruption. I find that the association between cohabitation and marital disruption has weakened across time among those that cohabited only with their partner. However, time has not reduced the likelihood of divorce among those that have experienced multiple cohabitations prior to first marriage.

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Presented in Session 160: Cohabitation and Union Dissolution