The association between premarital cohabitation and marriage breakdown: Continuity and change in Australian marriages 1945-2000

Hewitt, Belinda and de Vaus, David (2007). The association between premarital cohabitation and marriage breakdown: Continuity and change in Australian marriages 1945-2000. In: The 5th Meeting of the European Network for the Sociological and Demographic Study of Divorce, School of Economics, London England, (1-27). 17-18 September, 2007.


Author Hewitt, Belinda
de Vaus, David
Title of paper The association between premarital cohabitation and marriage breakdown: Continuity and change in Australian marriages 1945-2000
Conference name The 5th Meeting of the European Network for the Sociological and Demographic Study of Divorce
Conference location School of Economics, London England
Conference dates 17-18 September, 2007
Publication Year 2007
Sub-type Fully published paper
Start page 1
End page 27
Total pages 27
Language eng
Abstract/Summary One of the major shifts to occur in relationship formation over the last century is the increase in the number of people cohabitating prior to marriage. In Australia, the proportion of marriages preceded by cohabitation has risen from 16% in 1971 to 75% in 2003. Some family theorists argue that the increasing rate of cohabitation is, at least in part, a risk-management strategy in response to the perceived risk of divorce. In a social climate where marriage is no longer guaranteed for life, cohabitation offers the opportunity for a ‘trial marriage’, where a couple can get to know each other, negotiate roles, and develop communication skills prior to marriage, which should, in theory, reduce the likelihood of marriage breakdown as only the ‘best’ quality relationships proceed to marriage. But how effective is cohabitation as a divorce-risk minimisation strategy? The weight of evidence from developed Western countries such as Australia, the U.S., the U.K., and Canada suggests that cohabitation increases the risk of marriage breakdown rather than reducing it. On the other hand, a couple of studies provide evidence that the increased risk of divorce when a couple live together before marriage is smaller for younger cohorts than for older cohorts. These results suggest that the increased likelihood of divorce with premarital cohabitation is diminishing over time. In this paper I investigate these issues further using retrospective life course data from Wave 1 (2001) of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey (HILDA).
Subjects 1607 Social Work
1608 Sociology
Q-Index Code EX

 
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Created: Fri, 26 Feb 2010, 08:48:51 EST by Ms Lynette Adams on behalf of Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences