Choosing between the Available Alternatives: Intergenerational and Intragenerational Influences on Attitudes toward Cohabitation

Mick Cunningham, Western Washington University
Arland Thornton, University of Michigan

Intergenerational panel data are used to examine inter- and intra-generational influences on adult children's attitudes toward cohabitation. The analyses focus on the influence of parents' marital history and children's experiences with cohabitation, cohabitation dissolution, marriage, and divorce. The mediating influences of parents' attitudes toward cohabitation, parents' and children's religiosity, and children's sexual behavior in adolescence are also considered. Parental divorce during childhood leads young adults to view cohabitation more favorably, and this is true whether or not the divorce is followed by remarriage. Parental divorce influences adult children's attitudes about cohabitation by shaping subsequent levels of religious involvement among parents and children, parents' cohabitation attitudes, and adolescent children's sexual behavior. Dissolution of a first cohabitation and direct entry into marriage among the second generation are associated with decreasingly positive views of cohabitation, while entry into cohabitation and divorce after direct entry into marriage lead to increasingly positive attitudes toward cohabitation.

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Presented in Session 35: Cohabitation