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“Ethnic Variations in Characteristics of First Unions” 189

Add Health was designed to study health-related behaviors of a

cohort of adolescents in Grades 7-12 during the 1994-1995

academic year (Harris et al., 2003). The data were collected mainly

through adolescent in-home interviews. The first wave of Add

Health was collected between 1994 and 1995. Follow-up Wave 2

interviews were conducted between 1995 and 1996. The Wave 3

interviews were conducted with respondents in young adulthood

between 2001 and 2002. Finally, the Wave 4 interviews were

completed during the years 2007-2008 when respondents were

between the ages of 25 and 32.

In the Wave 4 data, all respondents were asked to provide a

retrospective report on all cohabiting and marital unions they had

ever formed by the time of interview. Within each union, five

possible types of relationship segments were also specified (i.e.,

marriage, cohabitation, pregnancy, dating, or most recent

relationship). For example, if a marriage was preceded by

cohabitation, the first segment of this relationship would be coded

as cohabitation and the second as marriage. Within each

relationship, the age and race of the partner and the start and end

dates of each relationship segment were also reported. This rich

relationship history data facilitate the study of premarital

cohabitation: unions that pass through “relationship transitions”

with the same partner and also partner characteristics.


Analytical Sample

The respondents included in this study are those who

participated in the Wave 1 and Wave 4 interviews and those who

have a valid longitudinal sampling weight. A total of 20,745 youths

aged 12 to 20 were interviewed in Wave 1, of which 15,701

participated in Wave 4. About a thousand respondents (n=1,041)

who belong to the “other race” category (i.e., American Indians and

Pacific islanders or those whose self-identified race is “other”) were

dropped from the qualifying 15,701 adults, leading to a sample size