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Morgan, S. Philip & Rindfuss, Ronald R. (1985). Marital Disruption: Structural and Temporal Dimensions. American Journal of Sociology, 90(5), 1055-1077.


Relying heavily on Ryder's (1965) argument concerning the central role of cohorts in social change and on Elder's (1978) work on life cycles, this paper integrates the disparate threads of the current marital disruption literature and provides an integrated framework for subsequent analysis. We focus on the study of intracohort life cycle development and comparative cohort careers. Our framework incorporates both elements simultaneously. Using 1980 Current Population Survey data and conditional logit analysis, this framework allows us to make refined statements about which marriage cohorts are most affected by given variables and where within the cohort's life cycle they act. For instance, we show that both the timing of the marriage and maritally conceived births affect the likelihood of disruption in all cohorts and at all marital durations observed. In contrast, the wife's level of education and a premarital birth affect the likelihood of marital disruption only at early marital durations. Such variable patterns of effects along the temporal dimensions of cohort and duration provide important clues to the mechanisms by which these variables influence marital disruption.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Sociology


Morgan, S. Philip
Rindfuss, Ronald R.