Children and the Stability of Cohabiting Couples

Pascale Beaupré, Statistics Canada
Pierre Turcotte, Statistics Canada

In Canada, and especially in Quebec, research has revealed that the proportion of couples who start their family in a cohabiting union has increased significantly since the 1980's. Indeed, 30 % of all births registered in 1994 in Canada were to nonmarital unions, and this proportion has reached 59 % in Quebec (in 2002). Retrospective data on the Canadian General Social Survey (2001) on family history collected information on various aspects of respondents' families allowing us to reconstruct the conjugal trajectories of respondents. Using the event history analysis method, we examine the effects of the arrival of a child on the stability of the parents' relationship in marital as well as in nonmarital unions. Findings indicate that, although cohabiting couples are less stable than marriages, the presence of children reduces the risk of conjugal disruption for married as well as for cohabiting couples.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Union Formation and Dissolution and Parents' Living Arrangements