Economic Factors and Relationship Quality Among Young Couples: Comparing Cohabitation and Marriage


  • Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 155 Hamilton Hall CB#3210, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210 (

  • This article was edited by Jay Teachman.

Population Research Institute, Pennsylvania State University, 703 Oswald Tower, University Park, PA 16802 (


Are economic resources related to relationship quality among young couples, and to what extent does this vary by relationship type? To answer these questions, we estimated regression models predicting respondent reports of conflict and affection in cohabiting and married partner relationships using the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, 1997 (NLSY97, N = 2,841) and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health, N = 1,702). We found that economic factors are an important predictor of conflict for both married and cohabiting couples. Affection was particularly responsive to human capital rather than short-term economic indicators. Economic hardship was associated with more conflict among married and cohabiting couples.