Health Status and Transitions in Cohabiting Relationships

Brandon Wagner, Princeton University

While the effect of health on marital entrance or divorce is well documented, less is known about how health influences transitions in cohabiting relationships. In this paper, I explore health effects on the risk of experiencing different cohabitation outcomes. Using longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, including a unique subset of complete couples’ data, I estimate competing-risk hazard models for the likelihood of a cohabitation transitioning to marriage. For female respondents, poor health is associated with reduced risk of subsequently marrying the cohabitation partner, though no such health effect is found for male respondents. Among the dyadic sample, poor health of the female partner is associated with reduced risk of marriage, even after controlling for male partner’s health. These results suggest health is an important predictor of cohabitation transitions, but that these transitions may only be sensitive to the health of the female partner.

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Presented in Session 171: Families, Health, and Well-Being