So happy together … Examining the association between relationship happiness, socio-economic status, and family transitions in the UK

Brienna Perelli-Harris, Niels Blom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The increases in cohabitation and in childbearing within cohabitation raise questions about who marries. Most studies have found that childbearing within cohabitation is associated with disadvantage; here, we examine the role of relationship happiness and whether it helps to explain this association. Using the UK Household Longitudinal Study (2009–17), our competing risk hazard models follow respondents as they transition: (1) from cohabitation into marriage or childbearing; and (2) from marriage or cohabitation into childbearing. We find that marriage risks are highest among individuals who are happiest with their relationship. On average, the association between relationship quality and childbearing operates through marriage: the happiest individuals marry, and those who marry have children. While higher socio-economic status is weakly associated with marriage, conception, and separation, the associations do not differ by relationship happiness. The findings indicate that overall, relationship happiness appears to be most salient for transitions into marriage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-464
JournalPopulation Studies
Volume76
Issue number3
Early online date19 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • childbearing
  • cohabitation
  • happiness
  • marriage
  • relationship quality
  • separation
  • socio-economic status
  • United Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • History

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