Teenage Cohabitation, Marriage and Parenthood

Wendy D. Manning, Bowling Green State University

Research has integrated cohabitation into the family life course of Americans. However, little work has specifically examined the role of cohabitation among teenagers. The National Survey of Family Growth (2002) is used to examine changes in teenage (ages 15-19) women’s family formation in terms of cohabitation, marriage, and birth. Analyses indicate that there has been in increase in teenage cohabitation among recent cohorts with about one-quarter of teenagers having cohabited and the growth in cohabitation has offset declines in teenage marriage. In fact, during adolescence, cohabitation is the most common family formation activity to occur. Cohabitation is increasingly linked to teenage marriage and teenage childbearing. It appears that cohabitation has become an important part of the landscape of the adolescent years.

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Presented in Session 24: Aspects of the Transition to Parenthood