Diverging Patterns of Union Transition Among Cohabitors by Race/Ethnicity and Education: Trends and Marital Intentions in the United States

The rise of cohabitation in family process among American young adults and declining rates of marriage among cohabitors are considered by some scholars as evidence for the importance of society-wide ideational shifts propelling recent changes in family. With data on two cohabiting cohorts from the NSFG 1995 and 2006–2010, the current study finds that marriage rates among cohabitors have declined steeply among those with no college degree, resulting in growing educational disparities over time. Moreover, there are no differences in marital intentions by education (or race/ethnicity) among recent cohabitors. We discuss how findings of this study speak to the changes in the dynamics of social stratification system in the United States and suggest that institutional and material constraints are at least as important as ideational accounts in understanding family change and family behavior of contemporary young adults. Read More >