This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cohabitation Overtakes Marriage Among Younger American Women

Esther Lamidi and PAA President-elect Wendy Manning have just posted a very interesting profile of the changing relationship patterns of American women aged 25-29. They use data from the National Survey of Family Growth to show that cohabitation has now overtaken marriage as the most common form of relationship that women have had at that age. But, as you can see below, this doesn't mean that young women aren't pairing up. Indeed, the opposite is true. In 2011/2013 (the most recent data available) a higher percentage of women had either cohabited or had been married than back in 1995.

Their data also show the very interesting trend that the percent of women who had ever-married by age 25-29 went down precipitously for every educational group except women with at least a bachelor's degree, for whom the percentage actually went up. At the same time, the percent ever-cohabiting went up noticeably for all educational groups, including those with a bachelor's degree. In other words, a college degree is becoming less of an impediment to establishing a relationship through cohabitation and/or marriage.

The data also show the troubling trend that the percent of Black women who have ever-married dropped to only 23%, compared to 51% for Whites and 57% for Hispanics. There are two troubling aspects that come to mind (though not discussed in the profile) are: (1) the high percentage of young Black men who are incarcerated and thus not "available" for marriage; and (2) the children born to women who are not married, since single women are likely to have fewer resources with which to cope with the task of raising children--a topic I have discussed before.

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