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Nonmarital Cohabitation and Childbearing among Black and White American Women

Laura Spencer Loomis and Nancy S. Landale
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 56, No. 4 (Nov., 1994), pp. 949-962
DOI: 10.2307/353605
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353605
Page Count: 14
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Nonmarital Cohabitation and Childbearing among Black and White American Women
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Abstract

Previous studies have suggested that there are racial differences in the role of cohabitation in the family-formation process. This study provides an empirical analysis of this issue by examining the childbearing behavior of approximately 733 black and 2,986 white cohabiting and married women at two stages in the marital life course. The results indicate that, for both first unions and first postmarital unions, the rate of childbearing within cohabitation more closely approximates the rate of childbearing within legal marriage among black women than white women. In fact, among black women in first postmarital unions, cohabitors and the legally married are equally likely to have a birth. In addition, among white women, the likelihood of a birth among relatively disadvantaged cohabitors is closer to that of legally married women than is the likelihood of a birth among more advantaged cohabitors. Overall, it appears that cohabitation is most similar to legal marriage as a setting for childbearing among black women and relatively disadvantaged white women.

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