The Reproductive Context of Cohabitation in the United States: Recent Change and Variation in Contraceptive Use


  • This article was edited by Jay Teachman.

Department of Sociology, California Center for Population Research, University of California, Los Angeles, 264 Haines Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (


Drawing on data from 2 waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (N = 11,065), the current research addressed 2 overarching questions about the reproductive context of cohabitation in the United States. First, did patterns of contraceptive use among cohabitors change during the last 2 decades of the 20th century? Second, did patterns of contraceptive use among cohabiting women tend to vary by education or race/ethnicity? Results point to a growing resemblance between never-married cohabiting women and those in first marriages in the likelihood of using a “very effective” contraceptive method and suggest that cohabitation is most “marriage like” with respect to reproductive behavior among the least educated.