Does living together lead to higher divorce rates?

In Newsweek, journalist Mike Kemp writes about some new studies of unmarried couples living together. Traditionally, living together before marriage was thought to make divorce more likely.

Moving in together before marriage used to be associated with a higher risk for divorce. But now, as more unmarried couples than ever before decide to live under the same roof, do they face the same fate?

Sociologists think the calculus may have changed. Part of the difference stems from just who’s deciding to shack up. In the late ’70s, only about a third of people lived together before tying the knot. Those people tended to be less traditional in their beliefs—it was the age of the hippie, after all—and therefore more likely to get divorced, says Pamela Smock, a sociologist at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. As cohabiting has come more common across the country, however, the once strong link between “living in sin” and divorce has weakened over time.

Many thanks for Mike Kemp and Newsweek for providing links directly to the actual studies on Google Docs. A news story is so much more powerful if you can see the source data.

In a paper by Rose Kreider, a large increase in cohabitating couples was noted between 2009 and 2010. This contrasts with the recent falls in divorce rates that we’ve seen. Read source document.

In a 2007 paper by Steffen Reinhold, he talks about previous findings that premarital cohabitation was linked with a greater number of divorces. By looking at data from 1988 to 2002, he demonstrates that this link has weakened over time. Read source document.

Learn more about trends in marriage and divorce in our recent interview with Rebecca Davis.

This entry was posted in Marriage and tagged , . Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.