Cohabitation and Divorce


Richard Bulcroft
Western Washington University

This module is designed to illustrate the effects of selection bias on the observed relationship between premarital cohabitation and later divorce. It also serves as a review of key methodological concepts introduced in the first part of the course.

Learning Goals

Learning about survey methodology and sampling methods
Using software to access and analyze census data
Employing control variables
Learning how to construct, read, and interpret bivariate tables displaying frequencies and percentages
Review the Following Methodological Concept:
Randomization vs. Random Sampling
Causality vs. Spuriousness
Self-Selection Bias
Social Measurement
Hypothesis Formation
Independent and Dependent Variables
Review Substantive Material:
The Effects of Cohabitation on Marital Success
Selection vs. Experience Effects
Unconventionality Hypothesis
Risk Differences Hypothesis
Deviance Hypothesis

Context for Use

This activity is used in a Sociology class for undergraduate students. This activity explores topics of household/family and marriage, divorce, cohabitation and childbearing in the United States.

Description and Teaching Materials

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses one customized data set made from from the 2000 Census. It guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the dataset for the activity, please see instructions and links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP, see the How To section on DataCounts!