Archive for the 'Family, Fertility & Children' Category


The Institute for Family Studies blog recently had a few articles on the importance of cohabitation:

  • Cohabitation, Marriage, and Union Instability in Europe by Jaap Dronkers

    There has always been a fierce debate about the relationship between cohabitation and divorce risks. Some argue that cohabitation lessens people’s commitment to partnership and thus increases their risk of divorce, while others believe that a cohabitation phase before marriage (as a trial marriage) would strengthen marital stability. In the United States, data suggest that the effect of cohabitation on marriage is at best neutral; however, in European countries, the effect of cohabitation on marital stability varies markedly, according to a study covering the last decade of the twentieth century (Liefbroer and Dourleijn, 2006).

  • How Cohabitation Shapes Young African Americans’ Marriage Attitudes by Scott Stanley

    A study just out suggests that cohabitation may serve to “reposition” African-American young adults toward more positive attitudes about marriage. Ashley Barr, Ronald Simons, and Leslie Gordon Simons examined changes over time in marital attitudes in a sample of African American youth who were followed from fifth grade to when they were in their early to mid-twenties. While their methods did not allow for assessing actual transitions into marriage and marital outcomes, the authors were able to track relationships, relationship quality, transitions into cohabitation, and attitudes about marriage. Their working assumption was that cohabitation changes people regarding marriage in a number of ways, and that some of those changes might be positive. Indeed, they found that early cohabiting experiences generally led to more positive attitudes about marriage among these young African Americans.

  • The Importance of Couples’ Pre-Cohabitation Relationship History by Anna Sutherland

    As Galena Rhoades and Scott Stanley documented in a report for the National Marriage Project last year, couples’ relationship history prior to marriage has implications for the state of their relationship down the road. Looking at 418 Americans who married over the course of the five-year Relationship Development Survey, they found (among other things) that individuals who said their relationship with their spouse did not begin as a hook-up reported higher marital quality, on average, than those who said the opposite.

Teens, Technology and Friendships

The Pew Research Center released a new report on the ways teenagers make and maintain friendships in the digital age.

For American teens, making friends isn’t just confined to the school yard, playing field or neighborhood – many are making new friends online. Fully 57% of teens ages 13 to 17 have made a new friend online, with 29% of teens indicating that they have made more than five new friends in online venues. Most of these friendships stay in the digital space; only 20% of all teens have met an online friend in person.

See also: 6 takeaways about teen friendships in the digital age and 5 facts about America’s students.

Comparing Age at Marriage and Divorce Risk in the U.S. and Europe

Jaap Dronkers writes a follow-up to Nicholas Wolfinger’s report, Want to Avoid Divorce? Wait to Get Married, But Not Too Long, which compares age at marriage and the risk of divorce in the United States and Europe.

Family Instability and Child Outcomes

Anna Sutherland, writing for the Family Studies blog, examines a recent article in the American Sociological Review by Dohoon Lee and Sara McLanahan which analyzes longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.

Family instability is bad for kids. This generalization doesn’t apply to every case—children stand to benefit when their mother kicks out an abusive live-in boyfriend, for example—but as a description of how the phenomenon plays out on average, it is not subject to much dispute.

Researchers are still digging into the specifics behind the generalization, however. By what measures and to what extent does family instability hurt kids? Do the number and kinds of family transitions matter, and how so? Are there gender and racial/ethnic differences in how children are affected? How does the impact of family instability compare with that of other childhood disadvantages, such as poverty?

2015 Kids Count Data Book

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released it’s annual Kids Count Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-Being.

From the website:

The 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book focuses on America’s children in the midst of the country’s economic recovery. While data show improvements in child health and education, more families are struggling to make ends meet, and a growing number of kids live in high-poverty neighborhoods. In addition to ranking states in several areas of child well-being, the report also examines the influence of parents’ education, health and other life circumstances on their children.

Go to the Kids Count Data Center to look at state data, as well as county, city and congressional district level data.

Lives of the Working Poor

David Lapp of the blog Family Studies uses the story of Lance, age 24, to illustrate the lives of the working poor: “Lance got married before having kids, and he and his wife both work—yet they still come up short on rent.”

Millennial Generation Still Living at Home

Despite an improved economy more young adults live with their parents: “In 2010, 69% of 18- to 34-year-olds lived independently. As of the first four months of this year, only 67% of Millennials were living independently.”

Pew Report here.

The Geography of Childhood

Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham of Wonkblog use data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count to map the best and worst states for children on a variety of indicators, including poverty, food security, housing, family structure, education, exercise, and incarceration rates.

See also, The growing wealth gap that nobody is talking about.

Age at Marriage and Risk of Divorce

Christopher Ingraham of Wonkblog writes about a new analysis of family data data by Nicholas Wolfinger:

Conventional wisdom has it that the older you are when you get married, the lower your chances for divorce. But a fascinating new analysis of family data by Nicholas H. Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah, suggests that after a certain point, the risk of divorce starts to rise again as you get older.

See Wolfinger’s report at Family Studies: Want to Avoid Divorce? Wait to Get Married, But Not Too Long.

See also his follow up, Replicating the Goldilocks Theory of Marriage and Divorce.

Preliminary Birth Data for 2014

The National Vital Statistics System released Births: Preliminary Data for 2014. The general fertility rate increased by 1% (the first increase since 2007), though the birth rate for teenagers and women aged 20-24 continued to decrease (both rates are at historic lows). The birth rates for women aged 30-34 and 35-39 seem to be driving the overall fertility increase: the number of births in these age groups increase by 4% and 5% respectively.