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The relationship context of nonmarital childbearing in the U.S


  • Jennifer Manlove

    (Child Trends)

  • Suzanne Ryan

    (National Institutes of Health (NIH))

  • Elizabeth Wildsmith

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Kerry Franzetta

    (Chapin Hall Center for Children)


Using Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort data, we update estimates of cohabiting nonmarital births, examine factors associated with relationship context at birth, and assess racial/ethnic differences. We find that 52% of nonmarital births occur within cohabitations – an increase of 33% since the early 1990s. Blacks have shown the greatest increase in cohabiting births over time. We also find that the fertility histories of men and women have opposite influences on nonmarital childbearing. Furthermore, for Whites, a partner of a different race/ethnicity is associated with a higher risk of a nonmarital birth; for Blacks and Hispanics, the opposite is true.

Suggested Citation

  • Jennifer Manlove & Suzanne Ryan & Elizabeth Wildsmith & Kerry Franzetta, 2010. "The relationship context of nonmarital childbearing in the U.S," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 23(22), pages 615-654, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:23:y:2010:i:22

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ron J. Lesthaeghe & Lisa Neidert, 2006. "The Second Demographic Transition in the United States: Exception or Textbook Example?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 32(4), pages 669-698.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sharon Sassler & Soma Roy & Elizabeth Stasny, 2014. "Men’s economic status and marital transitions of fragile families," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(3), pages 71-110, January.
    2. Megan Sweeney & Teresa Castro-Martín & Melinda Mills, 2015. "The reproductive context of cohabitation in comparative perspective," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(5), pages 147-182, January.
    3. Jennifer Manlove & Elizabeth Wildsmith & Erum Ikramullah & Suzanne Ryan & Emily Holcombe & Mindy Scott & Kristen Peterson, 2012. "Union Transitions Following the Birth of a Child to Cohabiting Parents," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 31(3), pages 361-386, June.
    4. repec:pri:crcwel:wp12-12-ff is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Ryan Heath Bogle, 2012. "Long-Term Cohabitation among Unwed Parents: Determinants and Consequences for Children," Working Papers 1404, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..

    More about this item


    cohabitation; nonmarital childbearing;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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