Do Premarital Cohabitation and Civil Marriage Have a Negative Impact on Marital Stability? Empirical Evidences for the Italian Case

Roberto Impicciatore, Università degli Studi di Milano

Civil marriages and marriages preceded by a cohabitation show higher rates of divorce. Many studies confirm that selectivity plays an important role in the relation between premarital cohabitation and union dissolution but we know little to date regarding the effect of civil marriage. We can easily imagine that civil marriages and premarital cohabitations are strictly linked and that both behaviours can be considered as endogenous in the hazard of divorce. The Italian case appears particularly interesting given the recent diffusion of the behaviours considered. Using micro-level data from ISTAT Multipurpose Survey 2003, we developed a multi-process model allowing the unobserved heterogeneity components to be correlated across the three decisions (premarital cohabitation, civil marriage, divorce). Our results show that selectivity is the main factor able to explain the higher divorce rates among those who lived a pre-marital cohabitation and a civil marriage. Net of selectivity, any form of causal effect from these two behaviours on union dissolution disappears.

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Presented in Session 160: Cohabitation and Union Dissolution