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Cohabitation & Marriage

I Do Not: Gen Z, Millennials Shifting Expectations About Marriage
Wedding bells aren’t ringing as much nowadays. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, more than 1 in 3 (34%) people 15 years or older have never been married in 2022. That’s up from about 1 in 4 (23%) in 1950. So, we wanted to ask why fewer people are walking down the aisle. We surveyed Millennials and Gen Zers who are currently in a relationship but not married to learn about their living situations and future expectations. While the majority are hoping to tie the knot someday, many aren’t in a rush to do it (2023).

Factors Shaping Attitudes Towards Casual Sex In Emerging Adults
Angela M. Kaufman-Parks and her colleagues examined data from a group of adolescents in Ohio over a period of several years to understand how their relationships with parents, peers, and romantic partners influence their sexual behaviors as they transitioned into adulthood. The findings of the study showed that both casual sex and sexual non-exclusivity were relatively common among emerging adults. The results indicated that family, peer, and romantic relationship contexts all played a role in influencing individuals’ likelihood of engaging in casual sex or sexual non-exclusivity (2023).

Capstones vs. Cornerstones: Is Marrying Later Always Better?
The median age at first marriage has increased dramatically over the past 50 years in the United States, from 23 in 1970 to about 30 in 2021 for men, and from 21 in 1970 to 28 in 2021 for women, and there is no evidence that this upward trend is leveling off. Many view this trend as a positive development because a capstone model of marriage emphasizes delaying marriage while young adults explore their identities, “get themselves together,” fully experience single life, pursue education and careers, and establish themselves financially. But, as often as we hear about the advantages of capstone marriage, there has been little empirical investigation of those purported advantages (2022).

Does a Longer Sexual Resume Affect Marriage Rates?
A paper just published in Social Science Research, provides a more definitive answer to this question. And it’s fairly straightforward: premarital sex indeed reduces the chances of marriage, but only in the short term. In the long term, your full sexual history doesn’t matter (2022).

Median Age at First Divorce
The median age at first divorce in the United States has increased steadily since 1970 with a persistent gender gap. In 1970, the median age at first divorce for men was 30.5 and 27.7 for women; by 2020, it reached 42.6 and 40.1, respectively. This represents historic highs for both men and women in their median ages at first divorce (2020).

Lifelong Marriage Lowers Risk of Dementia
If you are married continuously for many years in midlife, you have a lower risk of developing dementia in old age, according to a recently published study based on data from HUNT Study health surveys in Nord-Trøndelag (2023).

Re-Examining the Link Between Premarital Sex and Divorce
Premarital sex predicts divorce, but we do not know why. Scholars have attributed the relationship to factors such as differences in beliefs and values, but a study from Pennsylvania state re-examines this relationship with event history models that include adolescent beliefs and values, religious background, and personal characteristics, as well as approximate number of premarital sexual partners in young adulthood. The study finds that the relationship between premarital sex and divorce is highly significant and robust even when accounting for early-life factors; with no evidence of gender differences. followed by those with one to eight partners. There is no evidence of gender differences (2023).

Using the Principles of Adult Learning to Enhance Health Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Programming
Many healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood (HMRF) programs that serve adults find it challenging to keep participants engaged in voluntary workshop sessions and help them achieve their desired outcomes. “Adult learning theory” identifies key principles that matter most for adults to learn successfully. The brief highlights five strategies based on adult learning theory that HMRF program developers and facilitators can use to support participants’ engagement and learning. It also explores specific ways programs can implement these strategies, along with concrete tips and examples (2021).

Bridging America’s Growing Divide
Interest in marrying climbed modestly, by 2 percentage points overall, since the pandemic hit last year. But this interest varied across the lines that most deeply divide America today. The rich, the religious and Republicans reported the greatest overall increase in the “desire to marry” while the poor, secular Americans and Democrats reported less or no increase in marriage interest, according to a new YouGov survey of men and women aged 18-55 by the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) and the Wheatley Institution (2021).

Couples Who Meet on Dating Apps More Likely to Divorce Early
Does it really matter how you meet your spouse? According to a new U.K. study, it might. Titled “Relative Strangers: The Importance of Social Capital for Marriage,” the study found that 12% of couples who meet online get divorced within the first three years of marriage compared to 2% of couples who meet through friends or family. After seven years, those statistics increase to 17% and 10% respectively (2021).

Benefits Of The Success Sequence For Self-Sufficiency And Family Stability
Since the early 2000s, researchers and policymakers have used the term ‘Success Sequence’ to describe a policy approach for reducing poverty and improving economic opportunity for adolescents and young adults. The term refers to a series of milestones in life—most commonly defined to include high school completion, full-time employment, and waiting for marriage to have children—that are associated with escaping poverty and joining the middle class. These milestones are described as a sequence to emphasize that their order also matters. This report presents an analysis of that success sequence (2021).

Rising Share Of U.S. Adults Are Living Without A Spouse Or Partner
In 2019, 38% of U.S. adults ages 25 to 54 were not living with a romantic partner, up from 29% in 1990, according to a new analysis of census data. Men are now more likely than women to be unpartnered, which wasn’t the case 30 years ago. Across a range of measures of economic and social status, unpartnered adults generally have different outcomes – often worse – than those who are married or cohabiting (2021).

Less Poverty, Less Prison, More College: What Two Parents Mean For Black and White Children
It is no “myth” to point out that boys and girls are more likely to flourish today in America if they are raised in a stable, two-parent home. Consistent with a longstanding social scientific consensus about family structure, children are significantly more likely to avoid poverty and prison, and to graduate from college, if they are raised in an intact two-parent family. This association remains true for both black and white children. (2021)

Does Cohabitation Compensate for Marriage Decline?
The rise in cohabitation coupled with the decline in marriage during young adulthood means young adults are still forming coresidential relationships. However, among young adults, cohabitation no longer offsets the decline in marriage because cohabitation has plateaued. The result has been that fewer women have formed unions. (2021)

Trends in Cohabitation Prior to Marriage
Five decades ago, living with a partner before entering marriage was rare, but today it is common. Over the last 50 years, the share of women who cohabited before marriage has risen almost sevenfold and recently reached a historic highpoint. Cohabitation prior to marriage increased from about one in ten (11%) among women who married in 1965-1974 to approaching eight in ten (76%) among women who married in the last five years (2015-2019).(2021)

Marriage and Divorce Decline During COVID-19
The decline in marriage and divorce was evident prior to the pandemic, but it remains unknown whether these patterns have persisted during the pandemic. We compared monthly marriage and divorce counts for two years prior to the pandemic (2018 and 2019), and during the pandemic for the five states that published monthly vital statistics data for 2020 (2021).

Is Marriage Good for Your Health?
Here’s a chicken-or-egg problem: Research shows married people enjoy better health. But why? Is it because marriage is good for your health and encourages healthier behavior, or because healthier individuals are more likely to get married? A study published in the September issue of the journal Personal Relationships, written by Cortez and colleagues, investigates the link between being healthy or unhealthy and getting married (2020).

Thirty Years of Changing Cohabitation Experience in the U.S.
This Family Profile documents shifts in the percentage of women who have ever cohabited over the past thirty years (1987 to 2017). The trend of increases in cohabitation has recently stalled, indicating a plateau in cohabitation experience in the United States. Due to the relatively short duration of cohabiting unions (about 2 years), it is important to examine changes in women’s experiences of cohabitation and not just their status at the time of interview (2020).

Marriage Trends Across Racial Groups and Economic Backgrounds
Researchers from the University of Michigan examine the family formation in the United States. Changes are dramatic; marriage has become less common, non-marital cohabitation has become more common, and racial and economic inequalities in these experiences have increased. The article provides insights into recent U.S. trends by presenting cohort estimates for people born between 1970 and 1997, who began forming unions between 1985 and 2015 (2020).

High School Seniors’ Attitudes Towards Cohabitation and Marriage
Although the share of high school seniors who expect to marry at some point in the future has remained constant over the past four decades, the share of adults who do marry has decreased significantly, indicating a disconnect between marital expectations and behavior.
FP-19-12 – High School Seniors’ Ideal Time for Marriage, 2017
FP-19-11 – High School Seniors’ Expectations to Marry, 2017
FP-19-10 – High School Seniors’ Attitudes Toward Cohabitation as a Testing Ground for Marriage, 2017

Less Stable, Less Important: Cohabiting Families’ Perspectives Across the Globe
A growing number of children in developed countries today are being raised by parents who are living together but not married. Some argue that cohabiting parents provide a family environment that is comparable to a married household, given that the children are being raised by two adults. However, a new survey of 11 developed countries shows that large shares of cohabiting couples with children under age 18 doubt that their current relationship will last, especially in comparison to married parents. Moreover, cohabiting parents in most countries are less likely than married parents to see their relationship as a vital part of their life. (2019)

Divorce, Co-Parenting and Kids
About one in three children living in the United States are growing up in a single-parent home. And among divorced couples with young children, moms are still more likely to have custody of kids after a split. New research supports the theory that when moms and dads maintain a better co-parenting relationship, kids may be less likely to act out. (2019)

Cross-National Comparisons of Union Stability in Cohabiting and Married Families With Children
Increases in cohabitation, nonmarital childbearing, and partnership dissolution have reshaped the family landscape in most Western countries. The United States shares many features of family change common elsewhere, although it is exceptional in its high degree of union instability. In this study, we use the Harmonized Histories to provide a rich, descriptive account of union instability among couples who have had a child together in the United States and several European countries. (2019)

The Economics of Non-Marital Childbearing and The “Marriage Premium for Children”
A large literature exists on the impact of family structure on children’s outcomes, typically focusing on average effects. We build on this with an economic framework that has heterogeneous predictions regarding the potential benefit for children of married parents. We propose that the gains to marriage from a child’s perspective depend on a mother’s own level of resources, the additional net resources that her partner would bring, and the outcome-specific returns to resources. In terms of high school completion or avoiding poverty at age 25, the “marriage premium for children” is highest for children of mothers with high school degrees and mothers in their early/mid-20s. For the more advanced outcomes of college completion or high income at age 25, the marriage premium is monotonically increasing with observed maternal age and education. (2019)

Cohabitation, Churning, and Children’s Diverging Destinies
Heather Rackin and Christina Gibson-Davis’s recent study highlights one of the mechanisms through which today’s family patterns result in greater economic difficulties: cohabitation. Rackin and Gibson-Davis explain how the rise in cohabitation has disadvantaged children of lower and moderately-educated mothers more than children whose mothers have a college degree. (2018)

Decision to Live Together Negatively Affects Wealth Accumulation
The study, published in the Journal of Financial Planning, found people who cohabited had less wealth compared with those who never lived together before marriage. The gap in wealth grew significantly for those who cohabited multiple times. (2018)

Mental Well-Being Differences in Cohabitation and Marriage: The Role of Childhood Selection
This study demonstrates the importance of early childhood conditions for understanding the relationship between cohabitation, marriage, and mental well-being. It provides further evidence that early childhood conditions are important for understanding later life well-being. Overall the results suggest that to improve mental well-being, policy makers should focus on reducing the adverse effects of disadvantage in childhood and improving mental well-being in adolescence rather than increasing incentives to marry in adulthood.  (2018)