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Melvin Stephens, Estimating Program Benefits

First Comes Cohabitation and Then Comes Marriage

Publication Abstract

Manning, Wendy, and Pamela Smock. 2002. "First Comes Cohabitation and Then Comes Marriage." Journal of Family Issues, 23(8): 1065-1087.

Recent evidence indicates an overall retreat from marriage. Cohabitation has contributed to this trend as cohabiting unions are increasingly not resulting in marriage. As an initial step in understanding why some cohabiting couples do not marry, the authors examine factors associated with cohabitors' marriage expectations. The authors focus particularly on the effects of socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity because prior research has suggested that the retreat from marriage in the United States has been more marked among Blacks than among non-Hispanic Whites or Hispanics and also for those of lower socioeconomic status. Using the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, we find Black cohabiting women have lower odds of expecting marriage. However, for all race and ethnic groups the probability of expecting to marry depends on men's socioeconomic position.

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