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Surveys show women's tendencies in relationships

Published on -5/6/2013, 9:30 AM

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This is the second in a series about understanding cohabitation and its relationship to marriage and divorce.

Q. What are some additional facts and trends for cohabitation, marriage and divorce?

A. In another survey from the Centers for Disease Control published in 2002, using data from the National Survey of Family Growth, researchers interviewed 10,847 women face-to-face in 1995. The women were 15 to 44 years old. The research covered basic demographic questions about cohabitation, marriage and divorce. Approximately 28 percent of women never had married or cohabited. Another 31 percent had married with no cohabitation with a future husband, and 10 percent had married and never cohabited with anyone.

Cohabitation, according to this research, is more likely to lead to marriage if the woman is from a two-parent home, never has been raped, values religion, never has had Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and comes from a higher education level and a higher family income. These are the same factors that lead to both marriage and cohabitation lasting longer.

Another factor that leads to marriage from cohabitation is whether the woman is employed. Along with that factor, community prosperity affects relationship stability. Cohabitation is more likely to lead to marriage in prosperous communities.

The divorce rate for first marriages is 33 percent by the end of 10 years. Risk factors that make divorce more likely include women marrying at young ages. For women who marry before age 18, the divorce rate is 48 percent by 10 years and 24 percent by 10 years for women who marry at 25 years or older. Other risk factors include women who have less education, come from single-parent homes, were raped, suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, had children before marriage or within seven months of the marriage, and cohabited before marriage.

Women who separate from their spouses go on to divorce at the rate of 84 percent by three years. Divorce is more likely if women have no children, have jobs and have high school diplomas.

With divorced women, 53 percent go on to cohabit in five years and 70 percent of divorced women cohabit by 10 years. Factors facilitating cohabitation after divorce include women without children, those who are not religious, those who were younger than 25 when divorced, and those living in more prosperous communities.

What are the odds women will remarry for a second time? In five years, 54 percent of divorced women will remarry, 75 percent in 10 years. Factors leading to remarriage include women with higher incomes, women who have no children or children born more than seven months into the first marriage, and women who do not live in large cities.

Second divorces are more likely if women were younger than 25 at the time of the second marriages, had come from single-parent homes, were raped, faced Generalized Anxiety Disorder, had children and had less education. There appeared to be no relationship between cohabitation and chances of divorce in second marriages.

Remarriage preceded by cohabitation is more likely with women who were younger than 25 when divorced, but a second divorce is more likely if women marry for the second time before age 25. Cohabitation and marriage are more likely to last if women are educated, religious, live in good neighborhoods, come from two-parent homes and have no children.

Research today looks at unmarried Americans as a significant social force in contemporary culture. In 2012, according to the American Community Survey, 47 percent of the adult population was unmarried. Non-married-couple households are growing in number. One-person households represent 27 percent of all households, according to the Current Population Survey. The majority of couples who get married cohabitated.

According to the CDC statistics from 2007, 39.7 percent of births occur with unmarried women. Of these births to unmarried women, 41 percent are born to women in cohabiting relationships.

With unmarried adults ages 18 and older, 46.6 percent of them are males and 53.4 percent are female. The married population, according to the American Community Survey, 2005-2007, is 49.9 percent women and 56.4 percent men. The unmarried population is predominantly Caucasian but more racially diverse than married adults. According to the National Opinion Research Center from the University of Chicago, 1999, 25 percent of American family households are married couples with their children. In a 1995 Harris poll, 90 percent of those surveyed felt society should sanction all family types.

Adverse outcomes for children are the same for stepfamilies and single parents. Problems include lower academic achievement, depression, behavioral disorders such as drug and alcohol abuse, premarital sex and arrests. There are mixed results from research about the welfare of children in cohabitation households as there are many variations in cohabitation patterns.

* Next week's article will present information from the National Marriage Project from Rutgers University, New Jersey.

Judy Caprez is an associate professor of social work at Fort Hays State University. Send your questions in care of the department of sociology and social work, Rarick Hall, FHSU.

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