Spatial variations in the effects of pre-marital cohabitation on subsequent marital dissolution

Paul J. Boyle, University of St Andrews
Hill Kulu, Max Planck Institute For Demographic Research

A number of studies show that, converse to certain theoretical assumptions, pre-marital cohabitation often increases the risk of subsequent marital dissolution. Some argue that this is a consequence of selection effects and that once these are controlled for appropriately pre-marital cohabitation either has no effect or may contribute to marital stability. More recently, the effect of pre-marital cohabitation has been shown to vary considerably by country, with negative effects being particularly pronounced where cohabitation is either particularly common or rare. We extend this research by examining whether the effects of pre-marital cohabitation vary across settlements within a country, in relation to spatial variations in cohabitation rates. We base our study on retrospective event-history data from Austria and apply hazard regression. We model the equations of union formation and dissolution jointly to control for unobserved selectivity of cohabiters or non-cohabiters.

Presented in Session 53: Marital dissolution