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Marriage following the birth of a child among cohabiting and visiting parents


Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, Office of Population Research, Princeton University, 286 Wallace Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544 (


Approximately half of nonmarital births are to mothers in cohabiting relationships, and an additional 30% are to mothers in visiting relationships. I use data (N= 1,945) from the Fragile Families Study to investigate whether the determinants of marriage in the year following a child's birth are similar for cohabiting and visiting parents. The results show that mothers’ education is predictive of marriage for cohabiting parents, whereas mothers’ earnings are predictive of marriage for visiting parents. The findings imply that visiting mothers place a greater emphasis on economic independence and sufficient resources to establish an independent household before transitioning to marriage. No differences in the association of relationship quality or attitudes and marriage are found.