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Family Matters No. 80 - September 2008

Multiple partnerships and children’s wellbeing

Andrew Cherlin

Abstract

This paper examines the emerging phenomenon of multiple partnerships. It is found that what has really propelled the growth in the proportion of people who have three or more partnerships is the great rise in cohabitation, which began in the last quarter of the 20th century and continues today. The author argues that the phenomenon of multiple partnerships may matter for family policy because of its potential effects on children. While many cohabiting partnerships may prove satisfactory to the adults concerned, the speed with which some adults proceed from partnership to dissolution to repartnering may not be optimal for any children involved. This paper was presented in a keynote session at the Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference in Melbourne, 9–11 July 2008.

This paper examines the emerging phenomenon of multiple partnerships. It is found that what has really propelled the growth in the proportion of people who have three or more partnerships is the great rise in cohabitation, which began in the last quarter of the 20th century and continues today. The author argues that the phenomenon of multiple partnerships may matter for family policy because of its potential effects on children. While many cohabiting partnerships may prove satisfactory to the adults concerned, the speed with which some adults proceed from partnership to dissolution to repartnering may not be optimal for any children involved. This paper was presented in a keynote session at the Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference in Melbourne, 9–11 July 2008.

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Suggested citation:

Cherlin, A. J. (2008). Multiple partnerships and children’s wellbeing. Family Matters, 80, 33–36.