Intentions to Marry at the Start of Cohabitation and Subsequent Transitions

Karen B. Guzzo, University of Pennsylvania

Despite the increased research on cohabitation, it is unclear whether cohabitors begin their union expecting to marry. Using Cycle 6 of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), this paper documents the extent to which cohabitors began their union with the expressed intent to marry and how this is related to subsequent cohabitation transitions. Cycle 6 of the NSFG is the first nationally representative survey to ask, for all cohabitations, whether respondents were engaged or had definite plans to marry (“marriage intender”) when they began cohabiting. Roughly equal proportions of men and women begin their first cohabiting union as engaged (42-45%). Preliminary results reveal that among those not currently cohabiting, over 75% of “marriage intenders” married their partners compared to only about 40% of those who were not. Of those that did marry, fewer of the “marriage intenders” had experienced divorce.

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Presented in Poster Session 1: Fertility, Family Planning, Reproductive Health