Relationship Transitions among First-Time Cohabitors: Predicting Marriage or Dissolution in a Competing Risks Framework

Brett Beattie, Pennsylvania State University

This study assesses the relative risk of moving into a marriage relationship among cohabiting couples as opposed to dissolution. Exchange theory is used to explore the link between human and economic capital attainment and the likelihood of marriage. Using longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997 we are able assess how both personal and couple level variables affects the competing risks of marriage and dissolution as compared to continuing to cohabit. It was found that income variables did little to increase the risk of marriage; however, not knowing your partner's income had strong effects on the hazard of both marriage and dissolution. It was also found that fertility variables play a large role, with pregnancy increasing marriage risk and decreasing dissolution. Interestingly, having a biological child present decreased the risk of dissolution and this effect grew stronger over time.

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Presented in Session 129: Transitions from Cohabitation to Marriage