How do age at marriage and premarital cohabitation affect the subsequent marital quality?

Open Access
Kim, Yonghyuk Taylor
Area of Honors:
Human Development and Family Studies
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Eggebeen, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kathryn Bancroft Hynes, Honors Advisor
  • Age at marriage
  • premarital cohabitation
  • marital quality
Previous studies find that early marriage is associated with lower marital quality and greater marital instability. However, most studies tend to focus solely on teen marriages, and only a few studies explain marriage at early 20s. Furthermore, few studies examine how premarital cohabitation affects the subsequent marital quality of couples who married in their early or late 20s. Using a nationally representative sample, the National Survey of Households and Families (NSFH), this paper examines whether marriage in the early 20s is riskier than marriage at later ages and how premarital cohabitation and age at marriage together affect the subsequent marital quality and the risk of divorce. There are two samples drawn from Wave I. One sample focuses on measuring marital quality and risk of divorce (N=514), and another sample measures marital status of respondents who married for at least five years before the interview (N=4,665). The results from Chi-square and t-test in this paper show that respondents who married in their early 20s reported even higher satisfaction in marriage than those who married at older ages. In addition, individuals who did not cohabit and married in their early 20s scored the highest marital quality and the lowest risk of divorce, compared to those who married before the age of 20 or after the age of 25.