Households in the U.S. spend a substantial fraction of their income on housing, which is exacerbated by the limited availability of subsidized housing and well-paying jobs in many areas. Yet, we know little about how local housing conditions shape the progression of romantic relationships. We link restricted geographic identifiers with romantic relationship histories from four waves of the National Surveys of Family Growth to examine how housing and labor market dynamics influence the likelihood and timing of cohabitation and marriage among sexual partners. We hypothesize that couples are more likely to enter into cohabitation quickly when county housing costs are high and labor market conditions are weak. We explore heterogeneity by socioeconomic status of the partners and characteristics of the relationship. Finally, we test whether the link between community economic conditions, housing costs, and shared living has become stronger as normative barriers to cohabitation have faded over time.
Presented in Session 41. New Perspectives on Partnership Formation in the United States