Reproductive Behavior and Nonmarital Cohabitation in the United States: Historical Change and Variation in Contraceptive Use

Megan M. Sweeney, University of California, Los Angeles

The reproductive behavior of cohabitors can provide important insight into the normative context and function(s) of cohabitation. Prior studies offer careful investigations of patterns of conception, childbearing, and the planning status of births to cohabitors. Yet surprisingly little is known about contemporary patterns of contraceptive use among cohabiting women. Still less is known about how the association between union status and contraceptive use may vary across groups, despite great interest in understanding subpopulation variation the meaning and function of nonmarital cohabitation. Relying on data from the National Survey of Family Growth, the current analysis addresses two key questions: (1) Has the nature of the association between union status and contraceptive use changed during the last two decades of the 20th century? (2) Does the nature of the association between contraceptive use and union status vary across groups?

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Presented in Session 131: Household Configurations and Reproductive Life