Cohabitation and Contraceptive Use in the United States: A Focus on Race and Ethnicity

  • Maurice AnyawieEmail author
  • Wendy Manning
Original Research


While cohabitation has been increasing and a growing context to have and raise children, there has been little attention to one of the key determinants of fertility and effective contraceptive use. Drawing data from the 2013–2015 National Survey of Family Growth (N = 2285), we provide a contemporary portrait of contraceptive use among cohabiting American women. Specifically, we were guided by two main goals. First, we compared cohabiting and married women’s contraceptive use patterns and the variation by race and ethnicity. Second, we focused solely on cohabiting unions; and examined the racial and ethnic variation among cohabiting women. We found that cohabiting women are more likely to use effective methods of contraception than married women. Nonetheless, our findings point to the fact that white cohabiting women are driving the higher patterns of contraceptive use among cohabiting women. Indeed, a further examination of the variation among women in cohabiting relationships shows that black cohabitors are less likely to use effective contraception in cohabiting relationships, compared to whites. Our findings contribute to understanding the reproductive behaviors among a growing set of couples, cohabitors.


Cohabitation Contraceptive use Race and ethnicity United States 



We thank three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. This research was supported in part by the Center for Family and Demographic Research, Bowling Green State University, which has core funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P2CHD050959). An earlier draft of this paper was presented at the 2018 Population Association of America and 2018 Council on Contemporary Families conferences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Center for Family and Demographic ResearchBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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