Roommates or Soulmates? Access to Housing and the Transition to Non-Marital Cohabitation in Sweden

Nathanael Lauster, DePauw University

Some researchers have suggested that non-marital cohabitation arises from difficulty in securing housing as a single adult, and non-marital cohabitants are best considered a sub-variety of roommates. Other researchers have emphasized the similarity between non-marital cohabitation and marriage, where access to suitable housing is seen as a prerequisite for family formation. In the first instance access to housing should make non-marital cohabitation less likely. In the second instance access to housing should make non-marital cohabitation more likely. In this paper I explicitly examine these two competing hypotheses using a multilevel event history model with data from the Swedish Family Survey of 1992 in combination with real estate and census data from Statistics Sweden. In general, I find that access to housing significantly increases the likelihood of non-marital cohabitation in Sweden. This contradicts the assumption that non-marital cohabitants are basically roommates and provides support for thinking of non-marital cohabitants as families.

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