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Cohabitation Statistics

Facts and Statistics Are Emerging About Cohabitation

Cohabitation in recent decades has emerged as an important emotional and economic institution, both as a predecessor to, and often as a substitute for marriage. This writing takes up some of those facts and figures.

  • 50% of women aged 15 to 44 had cohabited at some point. 2002 National Survey of Family Growth.
  • Among those currently cohabiting, the vast majority expected their cohabitation to lead to marriage.*
  • Most cohabitation does not end in marriage, but most marriages are preceded by cohabitation. In the early 2000’s, 59% had cohabited with their future spouse before the marriage.*
  • Cohabitation with an intended spouse is even more common among those who have previously divorced, with 75% of those remarrying in the early 2000s having cohabited before the marriage.*
  • US couples who cohabited prior to the marriage historically have been more likely to divorce than those who did not cohabit.*
  • I have seen no studies confirming it, but from what I have observed, it seems that cohabitation in part is related to the fact that people are marrying at a later age.
  • Speaking of a later age, cohabitation by senior citizens is economically driven. When a retired man and a retired woman each receive Social Security benefits, if they marry, total Social Security benefits will drop. It makes economic sense for some of these couples to live together, but not to marry.

* Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces, by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers.

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