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Keywords:

  • cohabitation;
  • coresidence;
  • dissolution;
  • divorce;
  • event history analysis;
  • marriage

Does the age at which premarital cohabitors moved in together explain why they have been found to have an increased risk of marital dissolution? Explanations for the increased risk of marriage dissolution among those who marry young center on marital role preparation; for premarital cohabitors, many, if not most, of these roles began at the onset of cohabitation, not marriage. Analyses of the 1995, 2002, and 2006–2010 waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (N = 7,037) revealed that age at coresidence explained a substantial portion of the higher marital dissolution risk of premarital cohabitors. In comparisons standardized by age at coresidence, the difference in risk of marital dissolution between premarital cohabitors and those who married without prior cohabitation (“direct marriers”) was much smaller than in comparisons standardized by age at marriage, and in some models this difference was not significant. Selection into direct marriage and premarital cohabitation was also examined.