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The Mental Health of Mothers and Fathers Before and After Cohabitation and Marital Dissolution.

Publication Year: 
Personal Author: 
Dush, Claire Kamp.
Adkins, Kate.
Technical Report
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Using data from years one and three of the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study, changes in depressive and anxious symptoms are compared for mothers and fathers who: 1) dissolve a cohabitating union versus remain intact; 2) dissolve a marital union versus remain intact; and 3) dissolve a cohabiting as compared to a marital union. In order to take into account potential sources of third variable bias from selection factors that differentiate those who are in cohabitations from those who are in marriages, mothers and fathers were matched on several sociodemographic control variables that research has demonstrated to be related to union formation and mental health outcomes. Results indicated that fathers who dissolve cohabitating or marital unions have greater increases in depressive and anxious symptoms over time than those who remain in their unions. In contrast, mothers increased in depressive and anxious symptoms, regardless of the type or stability of the union. For both mothers and fathers, no differences were found in change in mental health by type of union dissolution. In this lowincome sample of parents, results suggest that the impact of cohabitation and marital dissolution on mental health are similar in magnitude. (Author abstract)

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