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Premarital cohabitation and divorce: Support for the "Trial Marriage" Theory?

Author

Listed:
  • Hill Kulu

    (University of St Andrews)

  • Paul Boyle

    (University of St Andrews)

Abstract

A number of studies show that premarital cohabitation is associated with an increased risk of subsequent marital dissolution. Some argue that this is a consequence of selection effects and that once these are controlled for premarital cohabitation has no effect on dissolution. We examine the effect of premarital cohabitation on subsequent marital dissolution by using rich retrospective life-history data from Austria. We model union formation and dissolution jointly to control for unobserved selectivity of cohabiters and non-cohabiters. Our results show that those who cohabit prior to marriage have a higher risk of marital dissolution. However, once observed and unobserved characteristics are controlled for, the risks of marital dissolution for those who cohabit prior to marriage are significantly lower than for those who marry directly. The finding that premarital cohabitation decreases the risk of marital separation provides support for the "trial marriage" theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Hill Kulu & Paul Boyle, 2010. "Premarital cohabitation and divorce: Support for the "Trial Marriage" Theory?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 23(31), pages 879-904, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:23:y:2010:i:31
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    File URL: https://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol23/31/23-31.pdf
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Elena Pirani & Daniele Vignoli, 2014. "Are spouses more satisfied than cohabitors? A survey over the last twenty years in Italy," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2014_09, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    2. Nadja Milewski & Hill Kulu, 2014. "Mixed Marriages in Germany: A High Risk of Divorce for Immigrant-Native Couples," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 30(1), pages 89-113, February.
    3. repec:spr:eurpop:v:34:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10680-017-9423-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Coulter, Rory & van Ham, Maarten & Findlay, Allan M., 2013. "New Directions for Residential Mobility Research: Linking Lives through Time and Space," IZA Discussion Papers 7525, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Hill Kulu, 2014. "Marriage Duration and Divorce: The Seven-Year Itch or a Lifelong Itch?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(3), pages 881-893, June.
    6. Daniel T. Lichter & Katherine Michelmore & Richard N. Turner & Sharon Sassler, 2016. "Pathways to a Stable Union? Pregnancy and Childbearing Among Cohabiting and Married Couples," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 35(3), pages 377-399, June.
    7. Monika Mynarska & Anna Baranowska-Rataj & Anna Matysiak, 2014. "Free to stay, free to leave: Insights from Poland into the meaning of cohabitation," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 31(36), pages 1107-1136, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Austria; event history analysis; rural areas; selection effects; union dissolution; urban areas;

    JEL classification:

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

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