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The cohabitation go round: cohabitation and family instability across the globe


Using both individual-level and country-level data, we have shown that births to cohabiting unions contribute to instability in children’s family lives. Individual children born in cohabiting unions experience more union transitions before age 12 than children born in marital unions regardless of the mother’s educational attainment. There is much variation between countries in the amount of instability, but there are few exceptions to the pattern: children born to marital unions have the best chance of stability across various cultures, legal systems, welfare regimes, and levels of cohabitation.