Marriage, Cohabitation and Criminal Offending among Young Adults

Aaron Gottlieb, Princeton University
Naomi Sugie, Princeton University

Over the last 40 years, one of the most pronounced changes in the family is the increase in cohabitation and reduction in marriage. Despite the changing trends in the family, contemporary criminological theories have rarely considered the role of cohabitation in offending, continuing to emphasize the protective role of marriage. In this paper, we use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 to examine the relationship between marriage, cohabitation, and offending among a sample of young adult men and women. We find that cohabitation protects against deviant behavior, although to a lesser degree than marriage. Partner characteristics appear to mediate the association for both marriage and cohabitation; partnership characteristics, on the other hand, appear to mediate the association for cohabitation to a much greater degree than for marriage.

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Presented in Poster Session 5