Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Women who cohabit have daughters who do the same


When it comes to living together with a man, daughters often follow the lead of their mothers, according to a new study.

Research showed that young adult women whose mothers reported cohabitation were 57 percent more likely than other women to report cohabitation themselves. In addition, daughters of cohabiting mothers tended to cohabit at earlier ages than others.

“Women tend to model the behavior of their mothers when it comes to relationships,” said Leanna Mellott, co-author of the study and a graduate student in sociology at Ohio State University .

The likelihood that sons would cohabit was not affected by whether their mothers lived with a man outside marriage, but there were other effects: sons were more likely to cohabit if their mothers were divorced or had their first child at an early age.

While there has been a lot of research on how divorce affects children, this is one of few studies on the impact of cohabitation, said Zhenchao Qian, another co-author and associate professor of sociology at Ohio State .

More than one-third of all births in the United States in 2003 were to unmarried women.

“As more people enter into cohabiting relationships and have children, we have to recognize that this could have long-term effects on these children as they enter adulthood,” Qian said.

Mellott presented the team’s findings Aug. 16 in Philadelphia at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. Mellott and Qian conducted the study with Daniel Lichter, a former Ohio State professor now at Cornell University .

Data for the study came from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a nationally representative survey of people nationwide conducted by Ohio State ’s Center for Human Resource Research. Men and women aged 14 to 22 in 1979 were interviewed annually from 1979 to 1994, and once every two years from 1996 forward. The NLSY also interviewed these participants’ children.

This study included data on women in the NLSY who had children who were at least 18 years old by 2000. There were 2,426 of these young adults in this study.

Mellott said that the mothers in this study were not representative of all mothers, because they had children at a relatively young age. In addition, this NLSY sample includes more minorities than the general population.

Still, the researchers noted that the strong effects of cohabitation on adult children were consistent, even after taking into account factors such as race, education, and poverty, which all have their own strong links to cohabitation.

Other results of the study showed that young Black men were about 35 percent less likely than white men to report cohabitation, while Black women were 90 percent less likely to have cohabited than their white counterparts.

Education was another important factor, with higher levels of schooling consistently linked to lower levels of living together outside of marriage.

While religion itself was not linked to cohabitation, people who attended religious services weekly were much less likely to live together than those who attended rarely or never.

Young adults’ relationships were also affected by the stability of their mothers’ relationships, the study showed.

Each relationship transition for the mothers – including divorce, widowhood or new cohabitation -- increased the likelihood of cohabitation by 32 percent for their sons, and 42 percent for their daughters.

Mellott described this study as just the first step in trying to determine how living together outside marriage may affect children who grow up in such an environment.

“We need to further study both the number and type of relationship transitions – such as divorce or cohabiting – for mothers and their children,” she said.

“There’s been much discussion in society about healthy marriages and how to promote them, but we really need to know more about how these concepts are passed from generation to generation.”

This study was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Leanna Mellott | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>