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Union Formation Among Men in the U.S.: Does Having Prior Children Matter?



Our study investigates whether fatherhood, and specifically involvement with nonresident children, influence men's entrance into marital and cohabiting unions. Using the National Survey of Families and Households, our findings suggest that neither resident nor nonresident children affect men's chances of entering a new marriage, but nonresident children have a positive effect on cohabitation. The positive association between nonresident children and men's union formation is not uniform; instead, we find that it is involvement with nonresident children, specifically visitation, that enhances men's chances of forming new unions. Whereas women's obligations to children from prior unions represent a resource drain that lowers their chances of union formation, our analysis suggests that involved nonresident fathers are more likely to enter subsequent unions than other men.

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