Relationship Quality Among Older Cohabitors: A Comparison to Remarrieds

Matthew Wright , Arkansas State University

Later life marital patterns have undergone several shifts over the past couple of decades. Among the changes is the rapid growth of cohabiting unions in the second half of life. Despite the increase in older adult cohabitation, research on this population has been slow to keep up. Using data from the 2010 and 2012 Health and Retirement Study, I investigate both the positive and negative relationship quality of cohabitors relative to their remarried counterparts. Relationship quality is especially important because high quality relationships offer a number of benefits for well-being, whereas poor quality relationships often are detrimental. Across both positive and negative relationship quality, I found no differences between cohabiting and remarried individuals. These findings suggest that cohabiting unions and remarriages among older adults are comparable and that cohabitation in later life may operate as an alternative to remarriage.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions