Risk and Resilience and the Transition to Cohabitation, Parenting, and Marriage During the Emerging Adulthood Stage of Development

Alan Booth, Pennsylvania State University
Beth Rustenbach, Pennsylvania State University

Transitions to cohabitation, parenting, and marriage in the period from ages 18 - 25 are thought to prevent creating a stable life structure. Research shows early family transitions are detrimental to later socioeconomic achievement and marital stability. Although long-term outcomes may be negative, we assume individuals who make early family transitions envision benefits such as gaining social capital. We examine whether risk and protective factors are associated with early family transitions and whether those transitions lead to variation in depression. After a transition, we identify (1) why some highly depressed individuals experience a decrease in depression while others remain depressed; and (2) why some individuals with low depression remain stable while others experience an increase. Following the transition, depression decreased in nearly half the cases due to a range of factors. Although early family formation may have a long-term negative impact, the immediate effect tends to be a reduction in depression.

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Presented in Session 10: Family Instability and Child Well-Being