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Debt, Cohabitation, and Marriage in Young Adulthood

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  • Fenaba Addo

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Abstract

Despite growing evidence that debt influences pivotal life events in early and young adulthood, the role of debt in the familial lives of young adults has received relatively little attention. Using data from the NLSY 1997 cohort (N=6,749) and a discrete-time competing risks hazard model framework, I test whether the transition to first union is influenced by a young adult’s credit card and education loan debt above and beyond traditional educational and labor market characteristics. I find that credit card debt is positively associated with cohabitation for men and women, and that women with education loan debt are more likely than women without such debt to delay marriage and transition into cohabitation. Single life may be difficult to afford, but marital life is unaffordable as well. Cohabitation presents an alternative to single life, but not necessarily a marital substitute for these young adults. Copyright Population Association of America 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Fenaba Addo, 2014. "Debt, Cohabitation, and Marriage in Young Adulthood," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(5), pages 1677-1701, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:51:y:2014:i:5:p:1677-1701
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-014-0333-6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Daniel Schneider & Kristen Harknett & Matthew Stimpson, 2019. "Job Quality and the Educational Gradient in Entry Into Marriage and Cohabitation," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 56(2), pages 451-476, April.
    4. Shana L. Pribesh & Jane Smith Carson & Mikaela J. Dufur & Yuanyuan Yue & Kathy Morgan, 2020. "Family Structure Stability and Transitions, Parental Involvement, and Educational Outcomes," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(12), pages 1-14, December.
    5. Stella Min & Miles G. Taylor, 2018. "Racial and Ethnic Variation in the Relationship Between Student Loan Debt and the Transition to First Birth," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(1), pages 165-188, February.
    6. Fenaba R. Addo, 2017. "Financial Integration and Relationship Transitions of Young Adult Cohabiters," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 84-99, March.
    7. Xiaomin Li & Melissa A. Curran & Ashley B. LeBaron & Joyce Serido & Soyeon Shim, 2020. "Romantic Attachment Orientations, Financial Behaviors, and Life Outcomes Among Young Adults: A Mediating Analysis of a College Cohort," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 41(4), pages 658-671, December.
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    11. Allison Dwyer Emory & Daniel P. Miller & Lenna Nepomnyaschy & Maureen R. Waller & Alexandra Haralampoudis, 2020. "The Minimum Wage and Fathers’ Residence with Children," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 472-491, September.
    12. Catherine P. Montalto & Erica L. Phillips & Anne McDaniel & Amanda R. Baker, 2019. "College Student Financial Wellness: Student Loans and Beyond," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 3-21, March.
    13. Emily Parker, 0. "Gender Differences in the Marital Plans and Union Transitions of First Cohabitations," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 0, pages 1-22.
    14. Sieg, Holger & Wang, Yu, 2018. "The impact of student debt on education, career, and marriage choices of female lawyers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 124-147.
    15. Fenaba R. Addo & Jason N. Houle & Sharon Sassler, 2019. "The Changing Nature of the Association Between Student Loan Debt and Marital Behavior in Young Adulthood," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 86-101, March.
    16. Holger Sieg & Yu Wang, 2017. "The Impact of Student Debt on Education, Career, and Marriage Choices of Female Lawyers," NBER Working Papers 23453, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Wendy D. Manning & Pamela J. Smock & Marshal Neal Fettro, 2019. "Cohabitation and Marital Expectations Among Single Millennials in the U.S," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 38(3), pages 327-346, June.
    18. Jessica Houston Su & Fenaba R. Addo, 2018. "Born Without a Silver Spoon: Race, Wealth, and Unintended Childbearing," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 600-615, December.
    19. Christina Gibson-Davis & Anna Gassman-Pines & Rebecca Lehrman, 2018. "“His” and “Hers”: Meeting the Economic Bar to Marriage," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(6), pages 2321-2343, December.
    20. Madelaine L’Esperance, 2020. "Does Responsibility for Financial Tasks Influence Credit Knowledge and Behavior?: Evidence from a Panel of US Couples," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 377-387, June.
    21. Keera Allendorf & Arland Thornton & Dirgha J. Ghimire & Linda Young-DeMarco & Colter Mitchell, 2021. "A Good Age to Marry? An Intergenerational Model of the Influence of Timing Attitudes on Entrance into Marriage," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 37(1), pages 179-209, March.
    22. Wendy D. Manning & Kara Joyner & Paul Hemez & Cassandra Cupka, 2019. "Measuring Cohabitation in U.S. National Surveys," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 56(4), pages 1195-1218, August.

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