A Growing Trend: Couples Choosing To Shack Up Before Marriage

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Nearly half of all women moved in with a romantic partner prior to getting married, according to statistics released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Forty-eight percent of the more than 12,000 15- to 44-year-old females interviewed by the NCHS between 2006 and 2010 chose cohabitation as their first union, without marriage. That´s an increase from just 38 percent in 1995, the agency revealed in their new report.

The study also revealed that marriages themselves made up less than one-fourth of all “first unions” (meaning first marriages or cohabitations) during that span. In 2002, 30 percent of those were marriages, reported Jason Koebler of US News and World Reports.

Furthermore, 75 percent of American women had moved in with a partner other than a spouse by the age of 30, and 40 percent of all unmarried partners were joined in wedlock within three years´ time. One-third of all relationships involving non-married cohabitation remained intact without marriage, while 27 percent crumbed, reported Bloomberg´s Elizabeth Lopatto.

The study found that the median duration of initial cohabitation was 22 months — two months longer than in 2002 and nine months longer than in 1995, according to the NCHS report. Nearly one out of every five women became pregnant and gave birth in the first year of a first premarital cohabitation, they added.

“The United States has long had the shortest cohabiting relationships of any wealthy nation and now these relationships are lengthening,” Johns Hopkins University (JHU) sociologist Andrew Cherlin told Sharon Jayson of USA Today.

“What we’re seeing here is the emergence of children within cohabiting unions among the working class and the poor,” he added. “They have high standards for marriage and they don’t think they can meet them for now, but increasingly, it’s not stopping them from having a child. Having children within cohabiting unions is much more common among everybody but the college educated.”

Seven out of ten women without a high school diploma cohabitated before getting married, while only 47 percent of those with at least a bachelor´s degree did so, the NCHS report said. Caucasian women spent the least amount of time living with a romantic partner out of wedlock (19 months), while Hispanic women born outside of the US spent the most time cohabitating with a significant other (33 months).

“The percentage of first unions that were cohabitations rather than marriages increased 57 percent for Hispanic women, 43 percent for white women, and 39 percent for black women in 2006 through 2010, compared to a similar survey from 1995,” reported Lopatto. “Only Asian women weren´t more likely to cohabitate before marriage.”

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