Trajectories of Couple Relationship Quality after Childbirth: Does Marriage Matter?
Marital quality typically declines after the birth of a (first) child, as parenthood brings new identities and responsibilities for mothers and fathers. Yet, it is less clear whether nonmarital, cohabiting relationship quality follows a similar trajectory. This paper uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=2,108) with latent growth curve models to examine relationship quality for co-resident couples over nine years after a child’s birth. Findings suggest that marriage at birth is protective for couple relationship quality, net of various individual characteristics associated with marriage, compared to all cohabiting couples at birth; however, marriage does not differentiate relationship quality compared to the subset of stably-cohabiting couples. Also, cohabiting couples who get married after the birth have better relationship quality compared to all cohabitors who do not marry though again, not compared to stably-cohabiting couples.
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- Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
- Cynthia Osborne & Sara McLanahan, 2007. "Partnership Instability and Child Well-being," Working Papers 946, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
- Lee Lillard & Constantijn Panis, 1996. "Marital status and mortality: The role of health," Demography, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 313-327, August.
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