Studies – Cohabitation

Couples Living Together Before Marriage Less Likely to Get Married Than Ever: Study (2015)

Couples living together before marriage have less of a chance of tying the knot one day than couples who cohabited 30 years ago, according to a new study by the Center for Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green State University’s Sociology Department. Noting a “remarkable increase in prevalence of cohabitation in the past quarter century,” researchers sought to discover how stable cohabiting couples are today as compared to the early 1980s. They also wanted to see how children, race, and education affected relationship stability. Researchers analyzed the National Survey of Family Growth, as well as data from 707 women who cohabited in the 1980s, and 772 women who cohabited in the late 2000s. They confirmed what other studies had already found: Cohabitation is generally short-lived. Half of all first premarital cohabitations dissolve in less than two years. The study found that, while cohabitation lasts longer in the modern era, “the lengthening of cohabitation results mostly from the declining rate of transitioning to marriage.” In other words, couples who live together are significantly less likely to get married these days. The new Bowling Green study found that couples who lived together in the new millennium were about half as likely to marry now as other couples who lived together outside marriage three decades ago. They are also more than 20 percent more likely to separate. That did not surprise David M. Ross — a dean in Toledo, Ohio, who has lectured widely on the impact of cohabitation. He added that a significant number of the couples who ultimately do marry after living together end up getting divorced. Fr. Ross...

Commitment vs. Togetherness

James Wilson noted that, “Scholars increasingly regard cohabitation as a substitute to being single, not an alternative to marriage.” So what is it that makes marriage so much different than living together with the person you love? Science has shown that married couples have a consistently higher level of happiness than couples who are cohabiting. This is likely because expectations are the same for a marriage-portrait.jpg husband and wife since there is a mutual commitment to each other for the future. As some scholars say, cohabitation is the oxymoron of an “ambiguous commitment.” When a man and woman live together before marriage, it is simply togetherness rather than commitment. Marriage provides a foundational commitment that will bind the couple together in many beneficial ways for years to come. Stanton, Glenn T.. “How Cohabitating Relationships Differ From Marriage.” The ring makes all the difference: the hidden consequences of cohabitation– and the strong benefits of marriage. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011. Print. [3 June 2014, abstinence.net, http://www.abstinence.net/our-blog/abstinence-posts/commitment-vs-togetherness/...

Marriage Still Protects Pregnancy (BJOG, 10/05)

Marriage Still Protects Pregnancy.    BJOG. 2005 Oct;112(10):1411-6. Raatikainen K, Heiskanen N, Heinonen S.      Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland.   OBJECTIVE: To assess the risk factors and outcome of pregnancy outside marriage in the 1990s, in conditions of a high percentage of extramarital pregnancies and high standard maternity care, used by the entire pregnant population. DESIGN: Hospital-based cohort study. SETTING: A university-teaching hospital in Finland. POPULATION: The 25,373 singleton pregnancies of known marital and cohabiting status. METHODS: Odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated to estimate the effect of extramarital childbearing on pregnancy outcome. Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to control for confounding maternal risk factors. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Small-for-gestational age (SGA) infants, preterm birth (less than 37 completed weeks), low birthweight (LBW; under 2500 g).   RESULTS: Of the study population, 67.5% were married and 32.5% were unmarried; 24.2% of all mothers were cohabiting. Unmarried status was strongly associated with social disadvantage and particular risk factors, specifically unemployment, smoking and previous pregnancy terminations, which in turn had an impact on obstetric outcome. There were significantly more SGA infants among unmarried mothers (P < 0.001), with an absolute difference of 45%; more preterm deliveries (P= 0.001), with an absolute difference of 17.5%; and more LBW infants (P < 0.001), with an absolute difference of 26%. The differences in adverse pregnancy outcomes between study groups (i) all unmarried women, (ii) cohabiting women and (iii) single women, remained significant after multivariate analysis at adjusted ORs of 1.11, 1.11 and 1.07 for SGA, 1.17, 1.15 and 1.21 for LBW and 1.15, 1.15 and 1.29 for...

August – June 2008: Marriage, Family, & Cohabitation

NEW! Reality Shows Cohabitation is a 'Disaster' for Marriage The Price is High for an American Anti-Marriage Culture Costly Substitutes: The Price of Family Fragmentation The Benefits of Marriage for African American Men… REALITY SHOWS COHABITATION IS A DISASTER FOR MARRIAGE, BUT POLL SHOWS THE PUBLIC BELIEVES OTHERWISE. Despite increasingly high divorce rates, nearly half of the US public now clings to the belief that pre-marital cohabitation will make divorce less likely according to a recent national poll. A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,007 adults released for the weekend shows 49 percent believe living together reduces the chances of divorce. 13 percent said cohabitation makes no difference at all on marriage's success. Only 31 percent held the view that shacking up before marriage increases the risk of future divorce. 7 percent had no opinion… Living together before marriage has skyrocketed since the 1960s, when Western cultures began to cast off traditional sexual mores; but the same period has seen a correlating upsurge of divorce. The evidence has prompted a number of studies that have indicated that by trying to avoid divorce by cohabitation, unwed couples seriously compromise their marital success. A 2006 report published in the journal Demography indicated one-half of all cohabiting unions collapse within a year and 90 percent within five years. "The common view of cohabitation as a steppingstone to marriage needs to be seriously questioned," commented Daniel Lichter a professor of policy analysis at Cornell University and the study's lead researcher.   "Instead, serial cohabitation may be an emerging norm as cohabiting unions form and break up," he said. "If marriage promotion programs hope to...

April 2008: Marriage & Family

Poll: Young Americans Revere Monogamy The Incontrovertible Facts About Fathers… POLL: YOUNG AMERICANS REVERE MONOGAMY. Young Americans have a reverence for national institutions, traditions and family values, a U.S. survey indicates. A survey of so-called "millennials" — those between 21 and 29 — revealed the group overwhelmingly said they support monogamy, marriage, the U.S. Constitution and the military, The Washington Times reported Sunday. "We were completely surprised. There has been a faulty portrayal of millennials by the media — television, films, news, blogs, everything. These people are not the self-entitled, coddled slackers they're made out to be. Misnomers and myths about them are all over the place," said Ann Mack, who directed the survey and is the official "director of trend-spotting" at J. Walter Thompson, the nation's largest advertising agency. In addition to indicating 94 percent of millennials respect monogamy and parenthood and 84 percent revere marriage, the survey found 88 percent said they respect the U.S. Constitution, 84 percent respect the military and more than three-quarters believe in the "American dream." The survey of 1,250 adults was conducted online throughout January. No margin of error was reported. [March 30, 2008, Washington, UPI]     THE INCONTROVERTIBLE FACTS ABOUT FATHERS. This should be the final word –– 24 scholarly studies covering 22,300 separate sets of data published in the 20 years between 1987 and 2007 report essentially the same finding: active fathers are absolutely essential in preventing behavioral problems with boys and psychological problems in girls. With such a massive body of evidence the debate ought to be over and the findings established beyond question. Policymakers ought to make...

February 2008: Marriage / Pregnancy

French Out-of-Wedlock Birthrate Shows Impact of Marriage Substitutes Pro-Life Advocate Shari Richard Releases Amazing New Ultrasound Video Survival of Premature Babies 'Doubles'… FRENCH OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHRATE SHOWS IMPACT OF MARRIAGE SUBSTITUTES. Last year, France became the first non-Scandinavian country in Western Europe where a majority of births are now out-of-wedlock. World Congress of Families International Secretary Allan C. Carlson called it, "a troubling development which underscores the danger of weakening the natural family by accepting marriage-substitutes." In France, 50.5% of the 816,500 births registered last year were to unmarried parents, up from 48.4% in 2006 and 40% a decade ago. Out-of-wedlock births kept pace with the rise of civil unions. In 2007, there were 305,385 of said "unions" registered in France, compared to only 266,500 marriages. In Sweden, Norway, Estonia and Bulgaria, out-of- wedlock births have also passed the 50% mark. In the United Kingdom, births to the unmarried were 44% in 2006, up a percentage point from 2005. In Italy and Spain, births to married couples are still the norm (illegitimacy is 27% in Spain and 17% in Italy). Even so, in those countries, the percentage of out-of-wedlock births has doubled in the past decade. Guy Desplanques, head of France's agency for compiling demographic data, notes, "Marriage is now seen more as a celebration held to bring together family and friends, and less a necessary institution, especially given the growth of civil unions." Said Carlson: "Civil unions and same-sex marriages are society's signal that traditional marriage is optional – that it's an occasion for a party, instead of a solemn joining of two individuals intended to last a lifetime."...

December 2007: Marriage / Cohabitation

Children are Safer When Living with Their Biological Parents Stable Marriages Good for Kids Divorce Bad for the Environment as well as Children More Unmarried Moms Over 20… CHILDREN ARE SAFER WHEN LIVING WITH BIOLOGICAL PARENTS: Research shows abuse increases when mom's boyfriend moves in. Child abuse in America is at a high, and experts warn the perpetrators tend to fit into one category. Reports show children living in households with unrelated adults — usually their mom and her boyfriend — are more likely to be sexually abused, and 50 times more likely to die of injuries, than children living with their biological parents.  “The demographers estimate that a child who’s born out of wedlock will have something like five or six different father figures and co-residents in their household or in their mother’s life before the age of 16," said Robin Wilson, a professor at Washington and Lee University professor. She said the boyfriend may see the child as a threat. University of Virginia Professor Brad Wilcox told Family News in Focus that men often step into father-like shoes they are not ready to fill. “It’s a very simple idea; it’s an idea that’s quite old," he said, "but we have to be attentive to the kinds of adults that we’re putting in contact with our children.” Does your marriage really matter to your children? Research says it does. Read more on the Focus on Social Issues Web page, http://www.citizenlink.org/FOSI/marriage/A000000982.cfm [20Nov07, http://www.citizenlink.org/CLNews/A000005964.cfm] STABLE MARRIAGES GOOD FOR KIDS. Although the majority of children are still being raised by their married biological parents, as many as 40% of cohabiting couples,...

August 2006: Cohabitation Not Working / Marriage Benefits Children

Infants Benefit From a Marital Environment Cohabitation Ends in Separation Much of the Time MARRIAGE : INFANTS BENEFIT FROM A MARRIED FAMILY. In a recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology, infants’ home environments and relationship with their mothers were found to be healthier when the mothers were married rather than cohabiting or single. Aspects of the mother-child relationship were explored at six and fifteen months of age: the behavior of each toward the other, the home environment, and the nature of the infant’s attachment. With one exception, scores were consistently higher for the married moms. Significantly, the number of adults in the home was less important that the marital status. [“Do Infants Benefit from a Married Family?,” familyfacts.org, http://www.familyfacts.org/featuredfinding.cfm; Abstinence Clearinghouse E-Mail Update, 26Jul06]       COHABITATION ENDS IN SEPARATION HALF OF THE TIME. A study published in the journal Demography finds that almost 1 of 2, or 46 of 100 cohabitating relationships last no longer than 5 years. Thus, 46% of those who live together end in separation, while 44% of such relationships end up in marriage. Table 2 in the journal shows that 24% break up in one year, 34% by two years, 40% by three, 44% by four, and 46% by five. Meanwhile, 24% get married after a year of living together, 34% within two, 39% by three, 42% by four, and 44% by five years of cohabiting. According to the study’s lead researcher, Daniel Lichter of Cornell University, “The common view of cohabitation as a steppingstone to marriage needs to be seriously questioned…Instead, serial cohabitation may be an emerging norm as cohabiting unions form and break...

Myths and Reality of Living Together Without Marriage (2/06)

Cohabitation has increased nearly 1,000 percent since 1980. In the United States, living together instead of marrying has become the norm for couples – half of young adults aged 20-40 are cohabiting instead of getting married. Cohabitation has increased nearly 1,000 percent since 1980, and the marriage rate has dropped more than 40 percent since 1960. Some see substituting living together for marriage as an insignificant shift in family "structure." Those who are better informed realize that the shift has disastrous ramifications for the individuals involved, as well as for society and public policy. The faulty reasoning leading young adults to make such a poor choice must be exposed. Here are 4 Myths surrounding the shift: Myth #1: Living together is good way to "test the water." Many couples say that they want to live together to see if they are compatible, not realizing that cohabitation is more a preparation for divorce than a way to strengthen the likelihood of a successful marriage — the divorce rates of women who cohabit are nearly 80 percent higher than those who do not. In fact, studies indicate that cohabiting couples have lower marital quality and increased risk of divorce. Further, cohabiting relationships tend to be fragile and relatively short in duration; less than half of cohabiting relationships last five or more years. Typically, they last about 18 months.   Myth #2: Couples don't really need that "piece of paper." A major problem with cohabitation is that it is a tentative arrangement that lacks stability; no one can depend upon the relationship — not the partners, not the children, not the community, nor...

Divorce Down; Cohabitation Up (2005)

A new report on the state of America‘s marriages finds that divorces are on the decline—but cohabitation is growing.   The National Marriage Project’s 2005 “State of Our Unions” report also found that the number of U.S. children born to unwed mothers is at an all time high—almost 35 percent.   Overall, the news is troubling to Mike McManus, president of Marriage Savers. “Couples who live together often think they are in a trial marriage,” he said, “but they are really more like in a trial divorce, because of 100 couples who begin living together, 45 of them will break up before there is a wedding.”   And it’s not just couples that are hurt by cohabitation. Glenn T. Stanton, senior analyst for marriage and sexuality at Focus on the Family Action, said children are affected, too.   “These kids are going to grow up and develop their own attitudes about marriage, which are largely going to be, ‘Marriage is irrelevant,’ ” he told Family News in Focus. “We need to teach the message that marriage is not irrelevant—it’s one of the most relevant social institutions that humanity knows.”   People who are married, he added, tend to be healthier and more satisfied.   “It benefits all of us,” Stanton said. “It’s the glue that holds all of civilizations together.”   The increase in cohabitation mirrors what has occurred in Sweden, according to David Popenoe of the National Marriage Project. The marriage rate in Sweden, he explained, is one of the lowest in the world—and the country’s divorce rate is rising.   [http://marriage.rutgers.edu; CitizenLink, 08/08/05; Abstinence Clearinghouse,...

The Cohabitation Epidemic (2003) / The Rise of Cohabitation (7/2002)

The Cohabitation Epidemic by Dr. Neil Clark Warren Eleven million live-in partners prefer not to marry. Here's why they should reconsider… Years ago, tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf announced that their first child would be born. "This is a very exciting time for us," Agassi said. "We are so happy to be blessed with this gift." No one seemed to notice – or care – that the couple wasn't married. Only a generation ago, this revelation would have raised eyebrows.   Yes, Things have changed dramatically over the past few decades. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 million people were in "unmarried-partner households" in 1970. The number rose to 3.2 million in 1990. And in 2000, the figure soared to 11 million.   Now, half of all Americans ages 35 to 39 have lived with someone outside marriage, according to researcher Larry Bumpass. Make no mistake: We are witnessing a major societal shift before our very eyes. When an epidemic reaches this level of societal acceptance, many well-meaning people begin to ask, "Should we accept cohabitation as another social trend akin to fast food, cell phones and casual Fridays?" You may be wondering whether all this hubbub about living together is much ado about nothing. As a psychologist who has worked with singles and married couples for 35 years, I think our alarm over this issue is much ado about a lot. Who Cohabits and Why Typically, people who cohabit fall into two categories. First, there are those who have little or no intention of getting married. They simply want to enjoy the benefits of living...

Married People Are Healthier, More Financially Stable (10/02, 12/04, 9/05)

A U.S. gov’t study concludes it's healthy to be married; overall, married people are sick less often and more active. They smoke and drink less and in general feel better than single, divorced, never married or even folks just living together. Among adults 18+, 11.9 percent said they were in fair or poor health, the study found. By comparison, some 10.5 percent of married people reported being in poor or fair health, while all other groups were higher. At 19.6 percent, widows and widowers were the most likely to be in these less healthy categories. The report was based on a survey of 127,545 people in 1999-2002 conducted by the center. The study found that married people said they had less low back pain, fewer headaches and less psychological stress. Some 4.7% of adults reported they had become heavier drinkers than previously, with the lowest rate among marrieds [3.7%]. Again, those living with an unmarried partner – most drinking, 8.2%, followed by the divorced and separated, 6.4%. Overall the study found that 58.2% of adults are married, 10.4% are separated or divorced, 6.6 percent are widowed, 19% are never married and 5.7% are living with a partner. [National Center for Health Statistics statistician Charlotte Schoenborn AP; ctv.ca, 16Dec04]   Men and Women Get Mental Boost from Marriage LONDON (Reuters) – Women, as well as men, benefit from marriage and get a mental health boost from being a couple, study findings suggest. Research from Australia, which showed that about 13% of married men and women suffer from stress contradicts the findings of a 1972 study by sociologist Jessie Bernard. Bernard's...

Heritage Study Finds Marriage Would Reduce Poverty Rates For Unwed Mothers (6/03)

A 5-year ongoing study found that single mothers would see an increase of between $10,199 and $11,599 in median family income if they married the father of their child. The researchers learned that almost 50% of the unwed couples are living together and an additional 23% are romantically involved; the fathers had median annual earnings of $17,500 and 67% had at least a high school degree. Welfare mothers who remain single will live in poverty 100% of the time, because welfare benefits do not lift a family out of poverty. “By contrast,” if the mother marries the child’s father, the poverty rate drops dramatically to 35%.” Feminists and some anti-poverty groups criticize the Bush administration’s effort to use welfare funds to encourage marriage, saying it “coercively intrudes on fundamentally private decisions.” [Heritage Foundation, “Fragile Families and Child Well-Being”; Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) conference on welfare reform May 28 Washington Times, 5-28-03; EF News & Notes,...