Equality and Union Dissolution: The Role of Income Allocation Methods among Married and Cohabiting Puerto Ricans

Sal Oropesa, Pennsylvania State University
Nancy S. Landale, Pennsylvania State University

The rise of cohabitation and childbearing within cohabiting unions has raised questions about the meaning of marriage and cohabitation, as well as the long-term consequences of changing union patterns for children. We assess the implications of how financial resources are managed in cohabitating and marital unions for union dissolution. Focusing on mainland Puerto Ricans, a disadvantaged minority group with high rates of cohabitation and childbearing within cohabiting unions, we show that union dissolution is associated with both union type and income allocation method. The relatively high rate of union dissolution among cohabitors can be explained partially by the fact that cohabiting couples are less likely than married couples to organize access to their income under an equality principle--that is, to put their income into a common pot that both partners can use. Further, departures from equality are more strongly related to union dissolution among cohabiting couples than among married couples.

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Presented in Session 66: Union Dissolution