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Cleaning Up Their Act: The Impacts of Marriage and Cohabitation on Licit and Illicit Drug Use (WP-03-02)

Greg J. Duncan, Bessie Wilkerson, and Paula England

Duncan, Wilkerson, and England use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to estimate changes in binge drinking, marijuana use, and smoking surrounding young adults’ first experience of cohabitation and marriage. They find that both marriage and cohabitation are accompanied by decreases in some risk behaviors for both men and women, and estimated reductions associated with marriage are generally largest. Smoking is much less responsive to these events than binge drinking and marijuana use. Women are more likely than men to quit engaging in some of these behaviors altogether, while reductions in the total volume of risky behaviors are often larger for men than women, in part because men engage in the behaviors more frequently.

Greg J. Duncan, Human Development and Social Policy and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Bessie Wilkerson, Doctoral Student, Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University

Paula England, Sociology and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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