A scholarly analysis of the reasons for cohabitation and its effects on child well-being is necessary to inform the development of family policy. This book is based on the presentations made during a national symposium on cohabitation held in October 2000 at Pennsylvania State University. The chapters address four broad perspectives: the trend in cohabitation, the role of cohabitation, the long- and short-term implications for children, and the impact of social policies on families formed by cohabitation. Racial and cultural factors are reviewed, as well as the purpose of cohabitation in low-income families. Characteristics of cohabiting couples, parenting behaviors, and behavioral and cognitive outcomes for children are discussed. The papers note the diversity in cohabiting unions regarding the purpose of the arrangement and the experiences of the couples. This diversity must be considered in the methodology of studies regarding cohabitation. In addition, research must recognize the evolution of cohabitation as an institution and acknowledge that there are no established rules or standards for cohabiting couples. The variety in cohabiting relationships also must be addressed when studying the effects of the family structure on child outcomes. However, the prevalence of cohabitation among disadvantaged families indicates that more attention must be given to children whose unmarried parents are living together. Numerous references, 27 figures, 25 tables.
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Just Living Together: Implications of Cohabitation on Families, Children, and Social Policy.