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December 12, 2011 Print

Study: Cohabiting People “Eventually” Marry

by Karla Dial

In analyzing data from a national study, researchers at Bowling Green State University found that about 61 percent of people who get married by the age of 25 are now choosing to cohabit first.

According to the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, about 25 percent of people get married before turning 25. But of those 63 percent of women and 57 percent of men — mostly Caucasians — report living together before tying the knot.

The Bowling Green authors characterized that statistic by saying “living together is a strong pathway to marriage.” But that doesn’t mean it’s a pathway to a strong marriage, said Glenn T. Stanton, director of Global Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family And author of The Ring Makes All the Difference.

“The top family sociologists have found time and again over the past two decades that few things contribute to elevated risk of divorce like cohabitation,” Stanton said. “Couples who live together before marriage face a 65 percent greater risk of divorce compared to couples who do not cohabit prior to marriage. And serial cohabitors see that risk double compared with those who cohabit only once.”

Read “On the Road to Adulthood: Sequencing of Family Experiences.”

Read Bowling Green State University’s information about the study.

Read “The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America 2010.”

Learn more about the National Marriage Project.


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