Jennifer Murff, writing for the Family Studies blog, discusses the trend of the Baby Boom generation choosing cohabitation over marriage.
My mom’s story is not unique—far from it. Baby Boomers are cohabiting at a high and increasing rate. In 2000, when the oldest Baby Boomers were in their early fifties, there were 1.2 million cohabiting Americans over age 50; in 2013, by comparison, there were 3.3 million. For older Americans who are divorced and want to find love for a second (or a third) time—marriage is not in the cards, it seems. Unlike Millennials, many of whom cohabit to test the waters with a partner before making a long-term commitment, Boomers may cohabit rather than marry for more complicated reasons.
The drop in birth rates from 2007 through 2013 has been well documented. However, it is also important to examine total rates of pregnancy and other pregnancy outcomes (abortion and fetal loss) to provide a comprehensive picture of current reproductive trends. This NCHS Health E-Stat uses data from 2010 to update a previous NCHS report on pregnancy rates. Data on pregnancy outcomes by age and race and Hispanic origin are presented.
2010 Pregnancy Rates Among U.S. Women
Sally C. Curtin, Joyce Abma [NCHS] and Kathryn Kost [Guttmacher Institute]
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Philip Cohen updates his paper, Recession and Divorce, in the Family Inequality blog:
When I analyzed divorce and the recession in this paper, I only had data from 2008 to 2011. Using a model based on the predictors of marriage in 2008, I thought there had been a drop in divorces associated with the recession in 2009, followed by a rebound back to the “expected level” by 2011. So, the recession reduced divorces, perhaps temporarily.
That was looking iffy when the 2013 data showed a big drop in the divorce rate, as I reported last year. With new data now out from the 2014 American Community Survey, that story is seeming less and less adequate.
See also: Update: Adjusted divorce risk, 2008-2014.
Nicholas Zill examines how family transitions affect student achievement for the Family Studies blog:
Among journalists who write about education, the stock explanation for student underachievement and school discipline problems is poverty. Yet there are examples in every school system of students from impoverished family circumstances who do well academically, as well as instances of students from affluent families who get D’s and F’s or wreak havoc in class. When poverty is overemphasized as a cause of instructional ills, other aspects of family life—such as conflict between parents or changes in student living arrangements due to divorce or remarriage—are typically ignored or underemphasized.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.”