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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cohabiting and Marriage Formation During Young Men's Career Development Process


Using recently released cohabitation data for NLSY79 males, this study conducts multinomial discrete-time event history-analyses of how young men’s career development process affects both the formation and dissolution of cohabiting unions. For a substantial proportion of young men, cohabitation seems to represent an adaptive strategy during a period of career immaturity, as measured by employment instability, while marriage was a far more likely outcome for both stably employed cohabitors and noncohabitors alike. Earnings positively affected the entry into either a cohabiting or marital union and exhibited a strong threshold effect. However, consistent with a selectivity argument, once cohabiting, earnings had little effect on the odds of marrying out of a cohabitation although higher earnings did discourage separations among whites. Men with better long-run socioeconomic prospects, i.e., the college educated, were far more likely to marry from either the noncohabiting or cohabiting state and this was particularly true for blacks.

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