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Religious Heterogamy and Relationship Stability: A Comparison of Married and Cohabiting Unions

  • Richard J. Petts

    (Ball State University)

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    Many studies have explored dynamics within religiously heterogamous marriages, but little is known about religiously heterogamous cohabiting unions. Using data from the Fragile Families Study, this study examines the influence of religious heterogamy on union stability among married and cohabiting couples. Results suggest that religious heterogamy is more common in cohabiting unions than marriages. Results also suggest that cohabiting unions are more likely to dissolve than marriages, and the risk of separation is higher for religiously heterogamous cohabiting unions (especially those in which one partner is religious and the other is not) than religiously heterogamous marriages. Finally, there is evidence showing that some religiously heterogamous cohabiting couples have a higher risk of relationship dissolution than religious heterogamous married couples due to lower relationship quality. Overall, this study extends the religion and family literature by showing that religious differences may lead to greater instability for cohabiting relationships than marriages.

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    File URL: http://crcw.princeton.edu/workingpapers/WP09-23-FF.pdf
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    Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 1209.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp09-23-ff
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    1. Ross Stolzenberg & Mary Blair-Loy & Linda J. Waite, . "Religious Participation Over the Early Life Course: Age and Family Life Cycle Effects on Church Membership," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 94-14, Chicago - Population Research Center.
    2. Daniel Lichter & Zhenchao Qian & Leanna Mellott, 2006. "Marriage or dissolution? Union transitions among poor cohabiting women," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 223-240, May.
    3. Evelyn Lehrer & Carmel Chiswick, 1993. "Religion as a determinant of marital stability," Demography, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 385-404, August.
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