Marriage and Cohabitation

By Arland Thornton; William G. Axinn et al. | Go to book overview
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Entering Marital and Cohabiting Unions*

In this chapter we shift our focus from marital statuses to the individual transitions that transform single individuals into cohabiting and married couples. Our primary emphasis here is on union-formation rates. What are the rates of transforming single individuals into cohabitors and spouses? And, what are the rates of transforming cohabiting unions into marriages? We describe these rates and show how they differ by the age and gender of the individual.

A secondary goal of this chapter is a consideration of cumulative experience with each of the relationship statuses. What fraction of the population ever enters a union and what percentages of these new unions are entered through marriage and cohabitation? And, given the movement among the three relationship statuses, what fractions of individuals are single, married, and cohabiting at any particular point of the life course? Here our emphasis is on young adults as they mature from teenagers into their early thirties.

Conceptualizing Marriage and Cohabitation Transitions

As we have noted in previous chapters, union formation can be a complex process, in part because people vary in the ways they conceptualize mar

* Georgina Binstock and Linda Young-DeMarco collaborated in the analysis and writing of
this chapter.


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