- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

A new study reveals that a man is more likely to live with a woman outside marriage if he is financially unstable.
The study, titled "Cohabiting and Marriage During Young Men's Career Development Process," will appear in the February edition of the journal Demography.
It suggests that the reason more Americans in recent decades have been living together out of wedlock is that men are considering their employment stability and future economic prospects before deciding whether to marry.
"I am not saying that people are so materialistic," said Valerie Oppenheimer, author of the study and a sociologist at UCLA. "What I am really talking about is uncertainty uncertainty about what sort of person they are and what the future might be."
The 21-page article bases its findings on a national sample of about 3,700 American men born between 1957 and 1965. The men came of age during a period of major changes in American society, in which public attitudes became more accepting of premarital sex.
The study found that when the earnings of young men are extremely low, they are unlikely to either marry or live with a woman. However, "it was a very low threshold," Mrs. Oppenheimer said.
"I found that you really had to have no income or work, or be earning well below the poverty level to have an effect on whether you cohabit," she said.
The study found that men who earn above the poverty line, but do not have full-time, year-round jobs, are more likely to start a relationship. But compared with steady workers, they more often cohabit than marry.
Compared with full-time workers, men who work part-time or seasonal jobs are 40 percent more likely to cohabit than to marry.
The study says that for many young men, living with a woman outside of marriage serves as a "fallback strategy" for those who have yet to establish a career.
It also said that white couples tend to marry at a higher rate than black couples after significant time living together. "There really is a huge difference between whites and blacks," Mrs. Oppenheimer said.
A major reason for the difference is that a steady work history increases likelihood of marriage, and blacks' average labor-market position is poorer than whites', the study said.


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