Cohabitation research part of strong BGSU presence

Drs. Wendy Manning and Susan Brown, sociology, have received nearly $1.8 million in grant funding since 2000 for their respective research of cohabitation.

This month, they will present their latest findings on the subject as part of a 14-member BGSU delegation at the 100th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, in Philadelphia.

Wendy Manning

Manning, director of BGSU’s Center for Family and Demographic Research, is in the midst of a four-year study of “The Meaning of Cohabiting Unions in the U.S.,” funded with $972,000 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). At the national conference, she will be the presenting author of “Family Instability in Cohabiting Parent Families: A Qualitative Perspective.”

The paper analyzes 65 in-depth interviews of cohabiting parents and/or stepparents from the Cohabitation and Marriage in America project led by Manning and Dr. Pamela Smock of the University of Michigan. Smock is also an author of the paper—as are BGSU graduate students Julie Downing and Gayra Ostgaard—and co-principal investigator, with Manning, of the NICHD grant program.

Brown is organizer of the session that will include Manning’s presentation and, on Saturday (Aug. 13), will make two of her own. She will present “Relationship Violence in Early Adulthood: A Comparison of Daters, Cohabitors, and Marrieds,” written with BGSU graduate student Jennifer Roebuck Bulanda. Later that day, she will discuss “Cohabitation among Older Adults: A National Portrait,” a collaboration with Bulanda and Dr. Gary Lee, chair of the sociology department.

Susan Brown

Brown and Lee are in the middle of a two-year, roughly $125,000 grant project, “Union Transitions and Cohabitation among Older Adults,” funded by the National Institute on Aging. Their paper uses data from both the institute’s 1998 Health and Retirement Study and the 2000 census to provide a portrait of the more than 1 million U.S. adults ages 51 and older who cohabit, emphasizing how they compare to their married, as well as unpartnered, peers.

Brown’s and Bulanda’s relationship violence study found, among other things, that cohabiting young women reported significantly higher levels of relationship violence than their married or dating peers. The researchers’ data came from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Brown is also studying “Children’s Developmental Outcomes in Cohabiting Unions” with the support of a NICHD Mentored Research Scientist Development Award, worth $540,000 over five years.

BGSU sociology faculty who will preside over sessions at the conference in Philadelphia include Manning (“Fathers in Families,” Aug. 16); Dr. Peggy Giordano (“Deviance and Social Control,” Aug. 13) and Dr. Laura Sanchez (“Race, Class and Families,” Aug. 15, and “Comparative Gender Role Attitudes,” Aug. 16). Giordano, a Distinguished Research Professor, is also organizer of her session, as is Sanchez, of the “Race, Class and Families” session.

August 8, 2005