Relationship-specific investments, family chaos, and cohabitation dissolution following a nonmarital birth

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Abstract

Predictors of two types of cohabitation dissolution, dissolution with a continued romantic relationship and without (i.e., breakup), were examined using data from mothers cohabiting at the time of a nonmarital birth in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 1,624). Life tables indicated 64% of unions dissolved within 5 years; of these, 76% broke up. Black mothers had the highest rates of dissolution. Maximum likelihood discrete-time event history results revealed that younger mothers were more likely to experience cohabitation dissolution into a breakup. Fewer relationship-specific investments and more family chaos were also associated with greater risk of cohabitation dissolution into a breakup. Mothers' multipartnered fertility and fewer relationship-specific investments were associated with greater risk of cohabitation dissolution with a continued romantic relationship. Postdissolution, mothers who maintained a romantic relationship were more likely to reenter a union with their former partner whereas mothers whose union broke up most often remained so.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-601
Number of pages16
JournalFamily relations
Volume60
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Breakup
  • Chaos
  • Cohabitation
  • Cohabitation dissolution
  • Relationship-specific investments

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