Intergenerational Patterns of Union Formation and Marital Quality
The authors examine whether young adults who experienced their parents’ divorce and new relationships have different relationship trajectories than those who spent their childhoods living with biological parents in marriedcouple families. The analysis is based on longitudinal reports from more than 1,500 children from Wave 1 of the 1987-1988 National Survey of Families and Households who were ages 18 to 34 at Wave 3 (in 2001-2002). The results suggest that parents’ intimate relationships serve as templates for their children. Children of divorce had elevated rates of cohabitation as adults, relative to marriage. But union outcomes were not uniform for all children who experienced parental divorce. Those whose parents cohabited following divorce exhibited elevated odds of cohabiting themselves, compared to young adults whose parents remarried without first cohabiting or remained in stable marriages. Parental cohabitation also undermines relationship quality and stability among married or dating young adults.
Policy Analysis and Management
Previously Published As
Journal of Family Issues. 30: 757-786