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Is Cohabitation Really Worse than Marriage?

The National Marriage Project, which conducts research on marriage and family in the United States, has a new report out on divorce, cohabitation and marriage in the U.S. Over the last four decades, there has been a twelvefold increase in the number of cohabiting households. The report says that 42 % of children have lived with cohabiting parents by age 12, and only 24% have lived with a parent who had divorced.

The researchers don’t think this is a good thing. They say that, “family instability is on the rise for American children as a whole” because “more couples are having children in cohabiting unions, which are very unstable.” The research also indicates that “children in cohabiting households are more likely to suffer from a range of emotional and social problems…compared to children in intact, married families.” It also showed that “rates of child abuse are lowest in families with two married biological parents, and highest when there is an unmarried unrelated partner in the home.”


Cohabitating couples with children may have their problems, at least according to this research, but it is worth looking at why people don’t want to marry. Take the Millennial generation, or Echo Boomers. An average of 22% of people ages 18-31 are not married. Why might they not want to marry? Here are just three reasons:


1. They have witnessed a lot of divorce from generations before them. If it was with their own parents, they experienced the divorce as the child of the parents, and all the pain and ugliness that that can include, from custody battles to trying to force alliances with one parent or the other.

2. Financial concerns. This generation is suffering from the state of the economy. A Pew Research Center report indicates that 10% say the poor economy has forced them to move back in with their parents. Twelve percent say they have had to get a roommate. Fifteen percent younger than 35 say they have postponed getting married because of the bad economic times we are in.

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I am the author of Families of Two, and blog about being childless by choice and more at La Vie Childfree. Along with being a “go to” on the topic of childless by choice and writing nonfiction books, I talk books at LiveTrue Books blog, and help people …

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