Contemporaneous versus retrospective reports of cohabitation in the fragile families survey

Julien O. Teitler, Nancy E. Reichman, Heather Koball

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


We compare contemporaneous and retrospective reports of cohabitation among unmarried mothers in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing survey (N = 2,524). We find that (a) many mothers revise their reports of whether they cohabited at the time of the birth of their child and (b) revisions in reports are systematically related to individuals' characteristics and the quality and trajectory of parents' relationships. These results have important implications for analyses of determinants and consequences of family structure using these data and, potentially, any retrospective data on relationships and family structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-477
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • Cohabitation
  • Recall bias
  • Relationship histories
  • Union dissolution
  • Union formation

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