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  • Rising Cohabitation, What It Really Means

    “No family change has come to the fore in modern times more dramatically, and with such rapidity, as heterosexual cohabitation outside of marriage,” writes David Popenoe, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Rutgers University and one of the preeminent family scholars in the country.

    The latest release by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) merely confirms Professor Popenoe’s conclusion.  It reports that, in 2002, one in two women aged 15 to 44 has been in a cohabiting relationship, about a 10-percentage-point increase since 1995.  Among women aged 25 and older, more than 60 percent have ever cohabited.

    Over the last few decades, the increase in cohabitation has contributed to the collapse of marriage and the steep rise in out-of-wedlock childbearing.  Between 1970 and 2008, the marriage rate fell by one-half, while the unwed birth rate rose from 11 percent to nearly 40 percent.  Already in 2001, more than one-half of the children born outside of marriage were to cohabiting parents.  Overall, two-fifths of all children will spend a portion of their childhood with an unmarried parent and his or her cohabiting partner.

    The erosion of marriage and the upsurge in unwed childbearing can have lasting individual and social consequences.  As the NCHS report notes:

    Research findings consistently document associations between formal marital status and well-being.  Married persons have generally better mental and physical health outcomes compared with unmarried persons.  Married persons also live longer, have higher rates of health insurance coverage, and lower prevalence of cardiovascular disease than unmarried person.

    Furthermore, the “[r]esearch also indicates that marriage is positively associated with the health and well-being of children.  Children born to unmarried mothers are at greater risk than children born to married mothers for poverty, teen childbearing, poor school achievement, and marital disruption in adulthood.”

    Notably, these adverse effects are not distributed equally and may continue intergenerational patterns.  As the NCHS study points out, the experience of cohabitation and marriage differ significantly by individuals’ educational level and their parents’ marital history.

    For example:

    • Among women who dropped out of high school, only 49 percent are currently married, while 17 percent are in cohabiting relationships, compared to 63 percent and 5 percent, respectively, of college-educated women.
    • Married women who lived in intact families at age 14 are 40 percent more likely to reach their tenth year anniversary than peers from non-intact families (67 percent versus 48 percent, respectively).

    The report also concludes that cohabitation tends to be short-lived, leading to a complete breakup or marriage.  For women, less than one-third of first cohabiting relationships last more than three years, and less than one-fifth more than five years.

    While the majority (65 percent) of first-time cohabitors marry within five years, marriages preceded by cohabitation, particularly without engagement, are more likely to end in divorce within a decade, compared to first-time marriages that do not begin with premarital cohabitation.

    Moreover, cohabitation is not the qualitative equivalent of marriage.  As the report notes, “[S]tudies have emerged that suggest that cohabitors do not show the same level of health benefits as married persons….and report lower levels of relationship quality and lower household incomes than married couples.”

    Sadly, as Heritage research fellows Katherine Bradley and Robert Rector note, “[d]espite the fact that collapse of marriage is the primary cause child poverty and welfare dependence, the Obama administration plans to eliminate all federal activity designed to strengthen marriage,” including programs that have served to advance and encourage healthy marriages in low-income communities.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Rising Cohabitation, What It Really Means

    1. David says:

      The root cause of all this is Misandry, the hatred of men.

      Started by Radical Feminists in the 60's, this has now permeated at all levels of society. Learn more about misandry here:


    2. Robert, CA says:

      Divorce its just so hard for the kids. when my parents separated, I was so doomed and very disappointed. But I just have to accept things as they are meant to happen. Good thing I got this planner/organizer from co-Parenting-Manager (http://4help.to/plan) which really helped me cope up with the situation. Their website is also perfect for parents and kids who are experiencing the dilemma of divorce.

    3. Kenneth E. MacAliste says:

      The REAL root cause of this is ignorance of & DEFIANCE of Almighty GOD & the way He intended us to live. You can analyze this up & down, back & forth & with all kind of science & psychology, but it won't change the fact that the root cause is America & Americans have turned their back on Almighty GOD & we as a nation are paying for it with the current collection of incompetent idiots in Congress & our CIC (that's Charlatan In Chief for those not aware of what is going on in The District Of Criminals) who are leading us as a nation literally to the gates of Hell. Until Americans return to GOD & ask His forgiveness as a nation, this nation is doomed to suffer more of what we're seeing now. GOD will not be mocked, ignored, or defied without consequences. Ask Israel. They know this fact very well.

    4. Delia, Chicago says:

      You know what, Kenneth and David? You’re absolutely right. Know what we should do? Let’s just round up everyone (especially the women), make church going compulsory, and make them get married.

      That’ll show ‘em.

    5. Pingback: Cohabitation, engaged and not « Family Inequality

    6. howard shamblin says:

      To make force the means by which one would make families whole, would be communism, but to turn to God for guidance and instruction on these matters would bring freedom in a willing way. We should not be rewarding bad behavior.

    7. Tim, CA says:

      If there is life after this life then it seems the most important thing to do is to have more children to experience the wonderful life after this life. Even the bible says go out and populate the earth. Jesus talks about the treasures in heaven for us humans. So if you really want to be giving then give God as many children as you can. Having children then becomes more important than if there is some family unit called a marriage. I have no children because I have never married. The people I let down are the children I never produced to experience life with God.

    8. Ellis says:

      An appropriate read on the day my unwed goddaughter and sister-in-law (both young college grads) gave birth. Increasingly, our culture approves cohabitation and unwed motherhood. Our churches remain deathly silent. We need to learn a lesson from the Gay Marriage crowd and hire some publicity specialists to bombard our schools, media and communities with the message of what cohabitation really means. People are ignorant of how unstable families are (in the long term) when marriage is removed from the equation.

    9. Pingback: ‘Early Show’ Panelists on Marriage: ‘Who Wants to Sign up for That?’ | Media In Politics

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