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Does cohabitation prior to marriage raise the risk of marital dissolution and does this effect vary geographically?

  • Paul J. Boyle

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Hill Kulu

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

Registered author(s):

    A number of studies show that premarital cohabitation increases the 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 extend this research by examining whether the effects of premarital cohabitation on marital dissolution vary across settlements within a country. Using retrospective event-history data from Austria, we model equations for union formation and dissolution jointly to control for unobserved selectivity of cohabiters or non-cohabiters. Our results show that those who cohabit prior to marriage have a higher risk of marital dissolution. However, once selection effects are controlled for, the risks of marital dissolution for those who cohabit prior to marriage are significantly lower than for those who marry directly. We show that strong selection effects relate to both cohabitation and direct marriage and these effects are consistent across all settlements.

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    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2006-051.

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    Length: 28 pages
    Date of creation: Dec 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2006-051
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    1. Clarkberg, M. & Stolzenberg, R.M. & Waite, L.J., 1993. "Attitudes, Values, and the Entrance into Cohabitational Unions," Papers 93-40, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    2. Jan M. Hoem & Alexia Prskawetz & Gerda R. Neyer, 2001. "Autonomy or conservative adjustment? The effect of public policies and educational attainment on third births in Austria," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    3. Mike Murphy, 2000. "Editorial: Cohabitation in Britain," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 163(2), pages 123-126.
    4. Fiona Steele & Constantinos Kallis & Heather Joshi, 2006. "The formation and outcomes of cohabiting and marital partnerships in early adulthood: the role of previous partnership experience," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(4), pages 757-779.
    5. T. Balakrishnan & K. Rao & Evelyne Lapierre-Adamcyk & Karol Krotki, 1987. "A Hazard Model Analysis Of The Covariates Of Marriage Dissolution In Canada," Demography, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 395-406, August.
    6. Gunnar Andersson, 2003. "Dissolution of unions in Europe: a comparative overview," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-004, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    7. John Ermisch & Marco Francesconi, 2000. "Cohabitation in Great Britain: not for long, but here to stay," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 163(2), pages 153-171.
    8. Magdalena M. Muszynska & Hill Kulu, 2006. "Migration and union dissolution in a changing socio-economic context: the case of Russia," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2006-032, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    9. Michael Svarer, 2004. "Is Your Love in Vain? Another Look at Premarital Cohabitation and Divorce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    10. Clare Holdsworth & B Jane Elliott, 2001. "The Timing of Family Formation in Britain and Spain," Sociological Research Online, Sociological Research Online, vol. 6(2), pages holdsworth.
    11. Paul J. Boyle & Hill Kulu & Thomas Cooke & Vernon Gayle & Clara H. Mulder, 2006. "The effect of moving on union dissolution," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2006-002, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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