A Demographic, Attitudinal, and Behavioral Profile of Cohabiting Adults in the United States, 2011–2015

May 31, 2018

Questions for Colleen Nugent, Statistician, and Lead Author of “A Demographic, Attitudinal, and Behavioral Profile of Cohabiting Adults in the United States, 2011–2015

Q: What did you think was the most interesting finding in your report?

CN: We took a snapshot of adults aged 18-44 in 2011-2015 and see that demographically, attitudinally, and behaviorally, cohabiters represent a unique group.  Demographically, one interesting finding is that cohabiters have lower educational attainment than other marital status groups–current cohabiters were more likely than both currently married and unmarried, noncohabiting men and women to have not received a high school diploma or GED.  Cohabiting men and women also hold different attitudes when it comes to fertility and family formation.

One interesting finding here is that a higher percentage of cohabiting women and men agreed with the statement, “It is okay to have and raise children when the parents are living together but not married,” compared with both married and unmarried, noncohabiting individuals.

In terms of family-formation and fertility behaviors, an interesting finding is that a higher percentage of cohabiting men and women had their first sexual intercourse before age 18 than both married and unmarried, noncohabiting persons.


Q: Why is the CDC examining trends in cohabitation in the U.S.?

CN: We aren’t examining trends because we don’t compare any estimates to a prior point in time.  But we felt it was important to profile cohabiters because cohabiting is becoming more prevalent among U.S. adults, and births to unmarried women are most likely to happen in a cohabiting union.


Q: Were there any major differences between men and women on attitudes and fertility behavior involving cohabitation?

CN: We only directly compared male and female cohabiters in our report.  Men and women only differed on one attitude–“It is okay for an unmarried female to have and raise a child.”  Female cohabiters were more supportive of this situation than male cohabiters.  Female cohabiters were more likely than male cohabiters to be living with children under 18, but less likely than male cohabiters to have had an unintended birth.


Q: Is there any comparable trend data on cohabitation in U.S. older than 2011-2015 data?

CN: Past NSFG surveys have collected data on cohabitation, but we did not analyze the older data for this report.  Other published estimates using older data incorporate a wider age range of respondents (15-44 years), so we can’t directly assess the trend using these newer estimates based on adults 18-44 in 2011-2015.


Q: What is the take home message in this report?

CN: Cohabiting adults represent a unique group relative to married or other unmarried adults and thus may have distinct family planning and fertility needs and considerations.

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Urban and Rural Variation in Fertility-related Behavior Among U.S. Women, 2011–2015

January 9, 2018

Questions for Kimberly Daniels, Ph.D., Statistician and Lead Author of “Urban and Rural Variation in Fertility-related Behavior Among U.S. Women, 2011–2015.”

Q: Why did you decide to examine fertility-related behavior among U.S. women in urban and rural areas?

KD: We decided to examine fertility-related behavior among U.S. women based on urban and rural residence because while there are many National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) reports on fertility, they do not usually include information about place of residence.  Two NCHS reports were recently published that use Vital Statistics data from birth certificates and focus on urban and rural differences.

One of those reports was on urban and rural differences in infant mortality rates and the other on urban and rural differences in teen birth rates.  After seeing the differences shown in those reports, we decided to work on an NSFG report focusing on fertility-related behavior and place of residence.


Q: Are there any findings among the urban-rural differences that surprised you?

KD: As far as what findings in this report surprised me, based on other publications we reviewed before starting this report I expected that the percentage of currently married women would be higher in rural areas compared with urban areas.  The results in this report showed that the percentage of women who were currently married in each area was similar, around 40%.  I also expected that there would be a difference for cohabitation; although I am not sure which group I expected would be higher.

The results for age at first sexual intercourse may be surprising to readers of the report.  This report uses data from women ages 18-44.  Place of residence is measured at the time of interview.  Among adult women who have ever had sex, the average age at first sexual intercourse was lower for women living in rural areas, 16.6 years on average, compared with 17.4 for women living in urban areas.


Q: Do you have any older trend data to this report from the National Survey of Family Growth for urban and rural fertility-related behavior?

KD: As far as trends over time, we do not show trend data in this report on urban and rural variation in fertility-related behavior.  Some older NSFG reports do include that information, such as this one on fertility, family planning, and reproductive health using 2002 data.  The variable that classifies women as living in an urban or rural area is available on our public use datasets.  It is available to download from our website so researchers could examine time trends or differences in other topical areas by place of residence.


Q: What did your report find on contraceptive use among women in urban and rural areas?

KD: The report looked at contraceptive method use at last sexual intercourse among women ages 18-44 who had sex in the last 12 months.  Contraceptive methods were grouped into four categories based on effectiveness at preventing pregnancy; no method, a less effective method, a moderately effective method, and a most effective method.  The results showed that similar percentages of women in urban and rural areas used no method of contraception, 21.0%.  A higher percentage of women in urban areas used a less effective method, such as a condom, compared with women in rural areas.  A higher percentage of women in urban areas also used a moderately effective method, such as the oral contraceptive pill, compared with women in rural areas.  A higher percentage of women in rural areas used one of the most effective methods of contraception such as a sterilizing operation or an intrauterine device compared with women in urban areas.

As we note in the report, the percentages we show for contraceptive use and the other measures do not account for other factors that could play a role.  For example, the figure that describes differences in number of births shows that women in rural areas are more likely to have had any births and have a higher average number births.  So, some of the differences in contraceptive use across the two groups could be related to differences in plans for future childbearing.


Q: What is the take home message of this report?

KD: The takeaway messages are shown in the key findings and summary in the report.  Among women aged 18-44, on average, women living in rural areas had their first sexual intercourse at younger ages than women living in urban areas. Similar percentages of women in urban and rural areas were currently married, cohabiting, or never married. A higher percentage of women living in rural areas were formerly married compared with women in urban areas. Women living in rural areas were more likely than women living in urban areas to have had any births and had a higher average number of births. Among women aged 18–44 who had sexual intercourse in the past year, a higher percentage of women living in rural areas used one of the most effective methods of contraception at their last intercourse compared with women in urban areas.  It is important to remember that place of residence was measured at the time of interview.

Some of the outcomes in the report occurred when the woman lived in another geographic location.  Also, as I mentioned above the results do not account for other factors that could play a role in the urban and rural differences presented in the


Three Decades of Nonmarital First Births Among Fathers Aged 15–44 in the United States

June 8, 2015

Nonmarital childbearing in the United States increased from the 1940s to the 1990s, peaked in 2007–2008, and declined in 2013. In 2013, the nonmarital birth rate was 44.8 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15–44.

Using data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), a new NCHS report examines nonmarital first births reported by fathers aged 15–44. This report presents trends in nonmarital first births by father’s age at birth and Hispanic origin and race. Given increases in births occurring in cohabiting unions, first births within cohabitation are also examined.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • The percentage of fathers aged 15–44 whose first births were nonmarital was lower in the 2000s (36%) than in the previous 2 decades.
  • Fathers with first births in the 2000s were more likely to be in a nonmarital cohabiting union (24%) than those in the 1980s (19%).
  • The percentage of fathers with a nonmarital first birth over the past 3 decades has remained similar for Hispanic and non-Hispanic white men, but has declined for non-Hispanic black men (1980s, 77%; 2000s, 66%).
  • Fathers with nonmarital first births in the 2000s were less likely to be non-Hispanic black men (21%) than Hispanic (33%) or non-Hispanic white (39%) men.
  • Fathers with nonmarital first births in the 2000s were more likely to be older at the time of the birth (33%) than those in the previous 2 decades.

 


Trends in Premarital Cohabitation

April 4, 2013

A new report from NCHS presents national estimates of first premarital cohabitations with a male partner for women aged 15–44 in the United States using the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG).  Trends in pregnancies within first premarital cohabiting unions and differences by Hispanic origin and race, and education are also presented.

Estimates from the report show that nearly half (48%) of women aged 15-44 in 2006–2010 cohabited outside marriage as a first union, compared with 43% in 2002 and 34% in 1995.  The term “first union” refers to either a first marriage or first cohabitation.  A lower percentage of first unions among women in 2006-10 were marriages (23%) vs. 30% in 2002 and 39% in 1995.  The largest proportion of premarital cohabitations among women (40%) transitioned to marriage by 3 years, whereas 32% did not transition to marriage but remained intact and 27% dissolved.  Nearly 1 in 5 women in 2006-10 became pregnant in the first year of premarital cohabitation (and went on to give birth). The probability of marriage for these women within six months of becoming pregnant was lower in 2006-10 (19%) than in 1995 (32%).

Key findings from the report:

  • Over 1 in 4 women in 2006-2010 had cohabited by age 20; almost 3 in 4 had cohabited by age 30.
  • The length of first premarital cohabitation was longer in 2006-2010 (22 months) compared with 1995 (13 months).
  • Almost half of premarital cohabitations for white women became marriages by 3 years. As a result, premarital cohabitations for white women didn’t last as long (19 months) as premarital cohabitations for foreign-born Hispanic women (33 months), black women (27 months), and U.S.-born Hispanic women (25 months).
  • Between 1995 and 2006-2010, premarital cohabitations as a first union increased by 57% for Hispanic women, 43% for white women, and 39% for black women.
  • In 2006-10, 70% of women with less than a high school diploma cohabited as a first union, compared with 47% of women with a bachelor’s degree or higher.  Premarital cohabitations for women with less than a high school diploma were less likely to result in marriage by 3 years compared with those for women with a bachelor’s degree or higher.