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Cohabitation and Marital Stability: Quality or Commitment?

Elizabeth Thomson and Ugo Colella
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 54, No. 2 (May, 1992), pp. 259-267
DOI: 10.2307/353057
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353057
Page Count: 9
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Cohabitation and Marital Stability: Quality or Commitment?
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Abstract

Using data from the 1987-88 National Survey of Families and Households, we found that couples who cohabited before marriage reported lower quality marriages, lower commitment to the institution of marriage, more individualistic views of marriage (wives only), and greater likelihood of divorce than couples who did not cohabit. Effects were generally stronger for those who had cohabited for longer periods before marriage. Social and economic characteristics accounted for the higher perceived likelihood of divorce among those who had cohabited less than a year; differences in marital quality and institutional commitment accounted for remaining effects of longer cohabitation, while marital individualism did not have significant effects on perceived likelihood of divorce.

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