Why are cohabiting relationships more violent than marriages?
- 415 Downloads
In response to increases in cohabitation in the United States, researchers have recently focused on differences between cohabiting and marital unions. One consistent finding is a higher rate of domestic violence among cohabiting couples as compared with married couples. A prominent explanation for this finding is that cohabitation is governed by a different set of institutionalized controls than marriage. This article explores an alternative explanation, namely, that differences in selection out of cohabitation and marriage, including selection of the least-violent cohabiting couples into marriage and the most-violent married couples into divorce, lead to higher observed rates of violence among cohabiting couples in cross-sectional samples. Our results suggest that researchers should be cautious when making comparisons between married and cohabiting couples in which the dependent variable of interest is related to selection into and out of relationship status.
KeywordsPartner Violence Female Partner Family Violence Married Couple Differential Selection
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Bumpass, L.L. and J.A. Sweet. 1989. “National Estimates of Cohabitation.” Demography 26: 615–25. orasper, L. and L. Sayer. 2000. “Cohabitation Transitions: Different Attitudes and Purposes, Different Paths.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, Los Angeles, March 23–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ellis, D. 1989. “Male Abuse of a Married or Cohabiting Female Partner: The Application of Sociological Theory to Research Findings.” Violence and Victims 4:235–55.Google Scholar
- Gelles, R. 1983. “Toward a Theory of Intra-Familial Violence: An Exchange/Social Control Theory.” Pp. 151–65 in The Dark Side of Families: Current Family Violence Research, edited by D. Finkelhor, R. Gelles, G. Hotaling, and M.A. Straus. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Kantor, G. and J. Jasinski. 1998. “Dynamics and Risk Factors in Partner Violence.” Pp. 1–43 in Partner Violence: A Comprehensive Review of 20 Years of Research, edited by J.L. Jasinski and L.M. Williams. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Lundberg, S. and R. Pollak. 2001. “Bargaining and Distribution in Families.” Pp. 314–40 in The Wellbeing of Children and Families: Research and Data Needs, edited by A. Thornton. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- Lupri, E., E. Grandin, and M. Brinkerhoff. 1994. “Socioeconomic Status and Male Violence in the Canadian Home: A Reexamination.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 19:47–73.Google Scholar
- McNally, J., S. Sassler, and R. Schoen. 1997. “Misplaced Affection: The Use of Multiple Imputation to Reconstruct Missing Cohabiting Partner Information in the NSFH.” PSTC Working Paper #97-09. Population Studies and Training Center, Brown University, Providence, RI.Google Scholar
- Repetti, R. 2001. “Searching for the Roots of Marital Conflict in Uxoricides and Uxorious Husbands.” Pp. 47–55 in Couples in Conflict, edited by A. Booth, A.C. Crouter, and M. Clements. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Sorenson, S., D. Upchurch, and H. Shen. 1996. “Violence and Injury in Marital Arguments: Risk Patterns and Gender Differences.” American Journal of Public Health 86:35–40.Google Scholar
- Sweet, J., L. Bumpass, and C. Vaughn. 1988. “The Design and Content of the National Survey of Families and Households.” Working Paper #1. Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
- Wilson, M. and M. Daly. 2001. “The Evolutionary Psychology of Couple Conflict in Registered Versus De Facto Marital Unions.” Pp. 3–26 in Couples in Conflict, edited by A. Booth, A.C. Crouter, and M. Clements. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Wilson, M., M. Daly, and C. Wright. 1993. “Uxoricide in Canada: Demographic Risk Patterns.” Canadian Journal of Criminology 35:263–91.Google Scholar
- Wilson, M., H. Johnson, and M. Daly. 1995. “Lethal and Nonlethal Violence Against Wives.” Canadian Journal of Criminology 37:331–61.Google Scholar