Does Waiting Pay Off? The Effect of Partnership Duration Prior to Household Formation on Union Stability

Christine Schnor, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

A large body of literature has studied the role of the cohabitation episode prior to marriage in union stability. However, little research exists that examines how the living apart together (LAT) period before moving together influences separation risks. This is surprising because this study finds that 90 percent of the unions were preceded by some LAT period. A short LAT period may have a negative influence on union stability, because the information on the partner is low and mismatches are possible. But a positive influence is also conceivable: a short LAT period may show the couple’s commitment. Data comes from the German Family Panel and includes 8,230 non-marital and marital unions. The results reveal that union stability is positively related to the LAT length. The findings suggest that the LAT period is a significant phase in the partnership which enables couples to acquire information on the quality of the partnership.

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Presented in Poster Session 1: Marriage, Unions, Families and Households