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Evolving patterns of marriage and divorce are at the core of studying changes in family composition and living arrangements. The timing of the age at entry into first marriage often reflects the period when people enter adulthood, such as the Great Depression of the 1930s or the economic prosperity of the post-World War II era. Changing views on the acceptability of cohabitation before marriage, both by the couples and their parents, may delay an eventual marriage or in some cases convince the couple not to marry at all. The likelihood of a couple separating or divorcing may also be influenced by changes in the way they confront and resolve personal issues as well as legislative trends in divorce laws that may make it easier to obtain a divorce than in earlier time periods. This report analyzes marriage and divorce patterns in the United States using retrospective marital history information collected in the second interview of the 1996 Panel of the Survey of Income and ProgramParticipation (SIPP). (Author abstract modified)