Cohabitation and Marital Expectations among Single Mothers

Pamela J. Smock, University of Michigan
Marshal Fettro, Bowling Green State University

Attention at the policy level has focused on the marital expectations and patterns of single mothers with millions of dollars invested to provide education programs to single parents. The emphasis on marriage seems somewhat misplaced as a growing share of single mothers are cohabiting rather than marrying. To date no research has considered single mothers expectations to cohabit along with their joint expectations to cohabit and marry. We capitalize on a new opportunity to study cohabitation expectations by drawing on recently collected, nationally representative data (National Survey of Family Growth 2008-2010) (n=3,633) to assess how parenthood is associated with expectations to cohabit and marry as well as examine how disadvantage influences single mothers’ cohabitation and marital expectations. The findings provide new insight into single mother’s views of future union formation behavior.

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Presented in Session 212: Cohabitation and Marriage