Long-Term Cohabitation: The Determinants and Consequences for Children

Ryan Bogle, Bowling Green State University

Though a great deal of prior research has examined the stability of cohabiting unions and child wellbeing in cohabiting unions, little research has attempted to integrate these two concepts. Using 4 waves of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Survey, I examine the determinants of long-term cohabitation among unwed parents, and the consequences of different stable unions for children. Preliminary findings indicate that higher expectations to marry and lower conflict increases odds of marriage relative to long-term cohabitation, while high of partner disagreement increases odds of dissolution. Taking background characteristics into consideration, children in long-term cohabiting unions appear to experience more paternal drug use relative to those in married parent families, and higher maternal involvement relative to those with parents who transitioned from cohabitation to marriage. Though some racial and socioeconomic differences exist, children in long-term cohabiting unions do not fare much worse than children in other stable family structures.

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Presented in Poster Session 6