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Marriage and Cohabitation following Premarital Conception

Wendy D. Manning
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 55, No. 4 (Nov., 1993), pp. 839-850
DOI: 10.2307/352766
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352766
Page Count: 12
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Marriage and Cohabitation following Premarital Conception
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Abstract

The role of cohabitation in the legitimation of premarital conceptions is considered, using data on a sample of 920 women from the National Survey of Families and Households. Three models are tested to determine the nature of the relationship between cohabitation and the American family system. Results show that, for white women in their twenties, cohabitation may act as a stage in the transition to marriage, because white pregnant cohabiting women are more likely than single white women to legitimate their first birth. However, among black women and teenage white women, cohabitation is an alternative to being single, in that pregnant cohabiting women are no more likely to marry before their child is born than are single women, and pregnant single women are more likely to marry than cohabit. Cohabitation does not appear to be a substitute for marriage, given the demonstrated preference for marriage. Findings indicate that cohabitation is part of the legitimation process and that it influences white women's and black women's marital behavior differently.

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