Cohabitation Over the Life Course

Brown, Susan L . (PI).
Children’s Developmental Outcomes in Cohabiting Unions. K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award, NICHD. 5 years

In this project, I use secondary data (e.g., Add Health) and qualitative data from semi-structured interviews to extend prior research on the effects of family structure on child development to include those living in cohabiting families. I consider the significance of the family environment at the person, process, and context levels for the development of youth in cohabiting families, paying special attention to the complications presented by poverty and minority status.


Brown, Susan L. and Lauren N. Rinelli. (2010). “Family Structure, Family Processes, and Adolescent Smoking and Drinking.” Journal of Research on Adolescence 20:259-273. PMCID: PMC2882304

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

Brown, Susan L. and Jennifer Roebuck Bulanda. (2008). “Relationship Violence in Early Adulthood: A Comparison of Daters, Cohabitors, and Marrieds.” Social Science Research 37:73-87.

Brown, Susan L. (2006). “Family Structure Transitions and Adolescent Well-being.” Demography43:447-461.

Manning, Wendy D. and Susan L. Brown. (2006). “Children’s Economic Well-being in Married and Cohabiting Parent Families.” Journal of Marriage and Family 68:345-362.

Brown, Susan L. (2005). “How Cohabitation is Reshaping American Families.” Contexts 4:33-37.

Brown, Susan L. (2004). “Family Structure and Child Well-being: The Significance of Parental Cohabitation.” Journal of Marriage and Family 66:351-367.

Brown, Susan L. (PI)
Lee, Gary R. (Co-I)
Union Transitions and Cohabitation among Older Adults . R03, NIA. 2 years.

We use data from the 1998-2002 Health and Retirement Study to examine cohabitation among adults older than age 51. In addition to constructing a portrait of older cohabitors and describing how they compare to those in other marital statuses, we also estimate event history models predicting the formation and dissolution of cohabiting unions in older adulthood.


Brown, Susan L., Jennifer Roebuck Bulanda, and Gary R. Lee. (2012). “Transitions into and out of Cohabitation in Later Life.” Journal of Marriage and Family 74:774-793. PMCID: PMC3516860

Brown, Susan L., Gary R. Lee, and Jennifer Roebuck Bulanda. (2006). “Cohabitation among Older Adults: A National Portrait.” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 61:S71-S79.

Brown, Susan L., Jennifer Roebuck Bulanda, and Gary R. Lee. (2005). “The Significance of Cohabitation: Marital Status and Mental Health Benefits among Middle-Aged and Older Adults.” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 60:S21-S29.