Volume 46 - Article 33 | Pages 957–1006  

Stability and outcome of interracial cohabitation before and after transitions to marriage

By Kate Choi, Rachel Goldberg, Patrick Denice


Background: Barriers to intermarriage are more formidable than barriers to interracial cohabitation. Relative to same-race couples, a higher share of interracial couples cohabits with their nonmarital partners. This raises the question: Does the social significance of cohabitation differ for interracial and same-race couples?

Objective: We compared the stability and outcome of first cohabitations prior to any marriage and the association between premarital cohabitation and subsequent marriage by couples’ joint race/ethnicity.

Methods: Using data from the 2002 and 2006–2019 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), we estimated discrete-time event history models to predict differences in the stability of cohabitations and subsequent marriages by couples’ joint race/ethnicity.

Results: The stability and outcomes of White–Black cohabitations were similar to those of same-race Black cohabitations, whereas the stability of White–Hispanic cohabitations fell in between those of their same-race White and Hispanic counterparts. Premarital cohabitation was generally positively associated with higher odds of marital dissolution, but it was negatively associated with the odds of marital dissolution for White–Black couples.

Contribution: Considerable heterogeneity exists in the social significance of interracial cohabitation. The challenges of crossing racial barriers in union formation may contribute to distinct union trajectories for interracial couples.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Differences in occupational homogamy by race, ethnicity, and national origin: A social mobility strategy for Asian Americans
Volume 48 - Article 18

The health of biracial children in two-parent families in the United States
Volume 41 - Article 8

Understanding patterns of contraceptive use among never married Mexican American women
Volume 34 - Article 40

Fertility in the context of Mexican migration to the United States: A case for incorporating the pre-migration fertility of immigrants
Volume 30 - Article 24

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Racial classification as a multistate process
Volume 50 - Article 17    | Keywords: Brazil, demography, increments to life, life expectancy, life table, mortality, multistate, race/ethnicity

Black–white intermarriage in global perspective
Volume 49 - Article 28    | Keywords: endogamy, ethnicity, intermarriage, modernization, race/ethnicity

The COVID-19 pandemic’s unequal socioeconomic impacts on minority groups in the United States
Volume 47 - Article 33    | Keywords: access to mental health services, COVID-19, employment income loss, food shortage, housing insecurity, race/ethnicity

Does race response shift impact racial inequality?
Volume 47 - Article 30    | Keywords: Brazil, earnings, income, race/ethnicity, racial inequality

The bootstrap approach to the multistate life table method using Stata: Does accounting for complex survey designs matter?
Volume 47 - Article 23    | Keywords: complex survey, Health and Retirement Study (HRS), health expectancies, multistate life tables, race/ethnicity, Stata