Currently cohabiting: relationship expectations and outcomes in the British household panel survey

Ernestina E. Coast, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

A limited number of U.S. studies have examined the effects of cohabitors’ own assessments of their relationship on union outcomes. To date in the UK there are no studies of the effects of cohabiters’ relationship expectations on union outcomes. This research uses prospective data from the British Household Panel Survey to analyse individuals’ relationship expectations and subsequent outcomes between 1998 and 2005. How do relationship expectations differ by age, sex, previous relationship history and parenthood? How do attitudes towards cohabitation differ by age, sex, previous relationship history and parenthood? Do individuals achieve their relationship expectations? How do cohabiting couples’ relationship expectations influence outcomes (marriage, separation, continued cohabitation)? Prospective data are particularly well suited to answering these questions as the relationship expectations are collected whilst the subjective state exists, allowing systematic empirical investigation of social change. Analyses use multinomial logistic regression and survival analyses of individual;- and couple-level data.

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Presented in Session 72: The Dynamics of Cohabitation

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