, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 205–217 | Cite as

Life course transitions of American children: Parental cohabitation, marriage, and single motherhood

  • Deborah Roempke GraefeEmail author
  • Daniel T. Lichter
Marital Patterns, Living Arrangements, and Intergenerational Relations


We examine the life course transitions into and from families headed by unmarried cohabiting couples for a recent cohort of American children. Life table estimates, based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth mother-child files, indicate about one in four children will live in a family headed by a cohabiting couple sometime during childhood. Economic uncertainty is an important factor determining whether children in single-parent families subsequently share a residence with a mother’s unmarried partner. Moreover, virtually all children in cohabiting-couple families will experience rapid subsequent changes in family status. Our estimates provide a point of departure for future work on children’s exposure to parental cohabitation and its social and economic implications.


Single Mother American Child Unmarried Partner Couple Family Life Table Estimate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Research InstitutePennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park

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