Together at last

Kevin Lewis

April 13, 2019

Do Expectations of Divorce Predict Union Formation in the Transition to Adulthood?
Rachel Arocho
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Objective: This study describes the association between explicit expectations of divorce and subsequent first union formation during the transition to adulthood (ages 18–28).

Method: Data from the 2005 to 2015 years of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics Transition to Adulthood Supplement (n = 2,052) were used to estimate the association between expectations of divorce and entry into first premarital cohabitation and first marriage using discrete‐time logistic and multinomial logistic survival models.

Results: As hypothesized, greater expectations for divorce predicted slower entrance into first marriage, even when controlling for expectations for marriage and various sociodemographic characteristics, and predicted a greater likelihood of both remaining single and being first observed cohabiting instead of marrying in young adulthood for both men and women.

Change in the Stability of First Premarital Cohabitation Among Women in the United States, 1983–2013
Esther Lamidi, Wendy Manning & Susan Brown
Demography, April 2019, Pages 427–450


The rapid growth in cohabitation over the past quarter-century necessitates studies of changes in the stability and outcomes of cohabitation. We utilized data from the 1988 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) and the most recent NSFG data from 2011–2013 to examine the outcomes of two comparable cohorts of first premarital cohabiting women (1983–1988 and 2006–2013). Our results showed that cohabitations formed between 2006 and 2013 lasted longer — 18 months, on average — than those formed in the mid-1980s, which lasted for an average of 12 months. We found that the lengthening of cohabitation over time cuts across sociodemographic characteristics — race/ethnicity, education, and motherhood status — and resulted mostly from the declining rate of transitioning to marriage. We found some support for the diverging destinies perspective in that disparities in the outcomes of cohabitation by education and by cohabiting birth have widened over time. Our analyses showed that changes in the outcomes of first premarital cohabiting unions over the past three decades were not due to compositional shifts in cohabitors. These results demonstrate the evolving dynamics of cohabitation over a 30-year window.

Genomic evidence for MHC disassortative mating in humans
Claire Dandine-Roulland et al.
Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, 20 March 2019


Although pervasive in many animal species, the evidence for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) disassortative mating in humans remains inconsistent across studies. Here, to revisit this issue, we analyse dense genotype data for 883 European and Middle Eastern couples. To distinguish MHC-specific effects from socio-cultural confounders, the pattern of relatedness between spouses in the MHC region is compared to the rest of the genome. Couples from Israel exhibit no significant pattern of relatedness across the MHC region, whereas across the genome, they are more similar than random pairs of individuals, which may reflect social homogamy and/or cousin marriages. On the other hand, couples from The Netherlands and more generally from Northern Europe are significantly more MHC-dissimilar than random pairs of individuals, and this pattern of dissimilarity is extreme when compared with the rest of the genome. Our findings support the hypothesis that the MHC influences mate choice in humans in a context-dependent way: MHC-driven preferences may exist in all populations but, in some populations, social constraints over mate choice may reduce the ability of individuals to rely on such biological cues when choosing their mates.

Health Status and Transitions in Cohabiting Relationships of American Young Adults
Brandon Wagner
Journal of Marriage and Family, forthcoming

Method: Data were taken from Waves III and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, including the supplemental collection of relationship partners conducted during Wave III. Competing‐risk regressions for the transition of cohabiting unions to marriage were estimated in two samples: individuals and a smaller sample of cohabiting couples with information from both partners.

Results: Healthier cohabiters are more likely to marry than are their less healthy counterparts, but only women's health is significantly associated with the transition to marriage. In the dyadic sample with information from both partners, the significant association between the female partner's health and the transition to marriage is robust to male partner characteristics, including health.

Sexual Concurrency and Contraceptive Use Among Young Adult Women
Abigail Weitzman, Jennifer Barber & Yasamin Kusunoki
Demography, April 2019, Pages 549–572


Leveraging 2.5 years of weekly data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life Study, we investigate the relationship between young women’s sexual concurrency and their contraceptive behavior. Specifically, we (1) examine whether young women changed their contraceptive use when switching from one to multiple concurrent sexual partners in the same week; (2) explore the uniformity of contraceptive responses to concurrency across relationship context; and (3) compare the contraceptive behaviors of never-concurrent women with those of ever-concurrent women in weeks when they were not concurrent. Nearly one in five sexually active young women had sex with two or more people in the same week. When they were concurrent, these women’s odds of using any contraception increased threefold, and their odds of using condoms increased fourfold. This pattern of contraceptive adjustments was the same across relationship characteristics, such as duration and exclusivity. Yet when they were not concurrent, ever-concurrent women were less likely to use any contraception and used condoms less consistently than women who were never concurrent. We discuss these findings in the context of ongoing debates about the role of sexual concurrency in STI transmission dynamics.

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