Cohabitation and Marriage in America

Manning, Wendy
Cohabitation and Marriage in America
NICHD R03 & R01

Wendy Manning (co-PI) and Pamela Smock (co-PI, University of Michigan) have been studying the implications of marriage, divorce, childbearing, and unmarried cohabitation among diverse populations in the contemporary United States . The current NIH funded projects aim to study the meaning of cohabitation and marriage. The NIH funds have been used to collect and analyze qualitative data from focus groups and in-depth interviews. The study includes an emphasis on gender as well as race and ethnicity (Latino, African American, and non-Latino white men and women). The R03 collected in-depth interview data from 115 respondents with some cohabitation experience and the R01 includes 138 focus group respondents and 60 dating, cohabiting, and married couples. The goal of this research is to address three questions: (1) Why and how do cohabiting unions begin? (2) What partner and parenting roles are assumed in cohabiting unions? (3) Why and how do cohabiting unions end? The objectives for collecting qualitative data on cohabitation include: to improve understanding of an important new living arrangement affecting increasing numbers of adults and children; to develop more accurate and richer theories of union formation and union stability; to create better conceptualizations and measurements of cohabitation; and to facilitate more precise interpretations of findings from quantitative analyses of survey or Census data.


Smock, Pamela J. and Wendy D. Manning. (Forthcoming). “New Couples, New Families: The Cohabitation Revolution in the United States.” In Barbara J. Risman and Virginia Rutter (Eds.), Families as They Really Are. Second Edition. New York: Norton.

Smock, Pamela J. and Wendy D. Manning. (2010). “New Couples, New Families: The Cohabitation Revolution in the United States.” Pp. 131-139 in Families as They Really Are, edited by B. Risman. New York: Norton.

Smock, Pamela and Wendy Manning. (2009). “Divorce-proofing marriage: young adults’ views on the connection between cohabitation and marital longevity.” NCFR Report. 54.2:F13-15

Manning, Wendy, Pamela J. Smock, and Cara Bergstrom-Lynch. (2009). “Cohabitation and Parenthood: Lessons from Focus Groups and In-Depth Interviews.” In Marriage and Family: Complexity and Perspectives, edited by E. Peters and C. Kamp-Dush. New York: Columbia University Press.

Wendy D. Manning, Jessica A. Cohen, and Pamela J. Smock. (2011). "The Role of Romantic Partners, Family and Peer Networks in Dating Couples’ Views About Cohabitation.” Journal of Adolescent Research, 26(1):115-149. PMCID: PMC3476461

Manning, Wendy D. and Pamela J. Smock. (2005). “Measuring and Modeling Cohabitation: New Perspectives from Qualitative Data.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(4):989-1002.

Smock, Pamela J., Wendy D. Manning, and Meredith J. Porter. (2005). “‘Everything’s There Except Money:’ How Money Shapes Decisions to Marry among Cohabitors.” Journal of Marriage and Family. 67(3):680-696.


Lonardo, Robert A., Wendy D. Manning, Peggy C. Giordano, and Monica A. Longmore. (2010). “Offending, Substance Use, and Cohabitation in Young Adulthood.” Sociological Forum 25(4):787-803. PMCID: PMC3045051

Jessica A. Cohen and Wendy D. Manning. (2010). "Serial Cohabitation: The Long and Winding Road to Marriage." Social Science Research, 39(5):766-776. NIHMSID: NIHMS271545

Brown, Susan L. and Wendy D. Manning. (2009). “Family Boundary Ambiguity and the Measurement of Family Structure: The Significance of Cohabitation.” Demography 46(1):85-101. PMCID: PMC2831266