Demography

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 937–953 | Cite as

Same-Sex and Different-Sex Cohabiting Couple Relationship Stability

  • Wendy D. Manning
  • Susan L. Brown
  • J. Bart Stykes
Article

Abstract

Relationship stability is a key indicator of well-being, but most U.S.-based research has been limited to different-sex couples. The 2008 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) provides an untapped data resource to analyze relationship stability of same-sex cohabiting, different-sex cohabiting, and different-sex married couples (n = 5,701). The advantages of the SIPP data include the recent, nationally representative, and longitudinal data collection; a large sample of same-sex cohabitors; respondent and partner socioeconomic characteristics; and identification of a state-level indicator of a policy stating that marriage is between one man and one woman (i.e., DOMA). We tested competing hypotheses about the stability of same-sex versus different-sex cohabiting couples that were guided by incomplete institutionalization, minority stress, relationship investments, and couple homogamy perspectives (predicting that same-sex couples would be less stable) as well as economic resources (predicting that same-sex couples would be more stable). In fact, neither expectation was supported: results indicated that same-sex cohabiting couples typically experience levels of stability that are similar to those of different-sex cohabiting couples. We also found evidence of contextual effects: living in a state with a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage was significantly associated with higher levels of instability for same- and different-sex cohabiting couples. The level of stability in both same-sex and different-sex cohabiting couples is not on par with that of different-sex married couples. The findings contribute to a growing literature on health and well-being of same-sex couples and provide a broader understanding of family life.

Keywords

Union stability LGBT Cohabitation Marriage 

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wendy D. Manning
    • 1
  • Susan L. Brown
    • 1
  • J. Bart Stykes
    • 2
  1. 1.Sociology Department and Center for Family and Demographic ResearchBowling Green State UniversityGreenUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologySam Houston State UniversityHuntsvilleUSA

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