Stability of Remarriage across the Life Course

Kathryn Coursolle, University of California, Los Angeles

Remarriage has the potential to offer unique leverage on life course variation since it occurs throughout adulthood. I first investigate whether marital dissolution varies broadly by age (40+ vs. <40) for recently remarried individuals. Guided by Levinger’s social exchange theory, I next examine whether life course variation in marital instability is explained by factors such as attractions to the current marriage, divorce barriers, and the attractiveness and availability of alternatives. Results suggest that individuals who remarried in mid to later life exhibit lower risks of marital disruption than individuals who remarried relatively earlier in life even after adjusting for background controls and theoretically important barriers to divorce such as children, relative economic independence of wives, religious factors, and commitment to the institution of marriage. However, no meaningful age differences exist after adjusting for shifts in the levels of attractions to the current marriage and availability and attractiveness of alternatives.

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Presented in Session 106: Family Formation and Dissolution in the Contemporary United States