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Melvin Stephens, Estimating Program Benefits

Separations, Reconciliations, and Living Apart in Cohabiting and Marital Unions

Publication Abstract

Binstock, Georgina, and Arland Thornton. 2003. "Separations, Reconciliations, and Living Apart in Cohabiting and Marital Unions." Journal of Marriage and the Family, 65(2): 432-443.

Using data from a panel study of White young adults containing complete marital and cohabiting union histories from age 15 through 31, our goal is to track and compare the paths along which young adults arrange and time the entries and exits from marital and cohabiting unions. We focus on the incidence, duration, and outcomes of 2 dimensions that embrace residential separation: (a) separations that relate to discord in the relationship and (b) living apart from the partner or spouse for reasons other than discord. Our results show that union trajectories are dynamic and involve a heterogeneous and multidirectional array of transitions. We also find consistent differences supporting the idea that marital unions are more stable and durable than cohabiting unions.

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