Single among marrieds: Characteristics, living arrangements and attitudes of the never married

Sarah Kathryn Pepper, University of Pennsylvania


As a result of both delayed and foregone marriage, greater proportions of the United States population are spending their middle adulthood in the never married state. This study uses data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) to examine adults from age 25 through 54 between 1972 and 1997, to determine if, as they become more numerous, they become less differentiable from members of their cohort who do marry. CPS data are also used to examine the living arrangements of these never married adults with particular attention to how these arrangements have varied across time. Attitudes of never married adults toward marriage and whether such attitudes or chosen living arrangements affect their likelihood of subsequent marriage are examined using data from two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH). Growth of the never married population has been accompanied by continued divergence between never and ever married adults. With respect to living arrangements, smaller proportions are electing to live with relatives and greater proportions are choosing to cohabit. Both high levels of education and high levels of income allow some individuals to achieve their preferences for independent living within a given time period and increasingly over time. For both males and females, age 25 and above in the NSFH data, there is a significant effect of Time 1 living arrangement on the likelihood of marrying within five years, above and beyond the effect of individual expectations of future marriage behavior. Cohabitors are more likely to marry than those in other living arrangements, suggesting that cohabitation serves as a stepping stone to marriage rather than a substitute for it.

Subject Area

Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Demographics

Recommended Citation

Pepper, Sarah Kathryn, "Single among marrieds: Characteristics, living arrangements and attitudes of the never married" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9965541.