, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 237-245

How does POSSLQ measure up? Historical estimates of cohabitation

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Abstract

We use March Current Population Survey (CPS) data from 1977 to 1997 to produce a new historical series of indirect cohabitation prevalence estimates. We compare our new estimates with those produced by the traditional method and evaluate the new estimates. We then compare the indirect estimates with the new direct estimates to investigate whether biases exist in the indirect estimates. Our findings indicate that the traditional indirect method of estimating cohabitation prevalence underestimates cohabitors in different subpopulations, especially among those with children. We also find that the new indirect measure produces relatively unbiased estimates of cohabitors’ characteristics.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1999 annual meetings of the Population Association of America. The findings and opinions expressed are attributable to the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Census Bureau or NICHD. We wish to thank Kurt Bauman, Robert Kominski, Wendy Manning, Martin O’Connell, Arthur Norton, and Sharon Sassler, as well as the editors and anonymous reviewers, for their comments. We acknowledge the helpful assistance of Jason Fields, David Johnson, and Tavia Simmons.