Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cohabitation and Marriage

The New York Times recently reported on a Study by the National Center for Health Statistics which found that “couples who live together before they get married are less likely to stay married.” This is not news to anyone who cares about traditional marriage and pays attention to statistics and attitudes towards the social institution. What was surprising and shocking, to me at least, was a statistic cited by the authors of the study.

The authors found that the proportion of women in their late 30s who had ever cohabited had doubled in 15 years, to 61 percent.

Can that statistic possibly be correct? Note that the authors define cohabitation as “people who live with a sexual partner of the opposite sex.” The statistic suggests that, if you randomly select any ten women in their late 30s, six of them will have lived with a lover. The definition, however, might not rule out married couples. Most of us, when speaking of cohabiting couples, specifically mean unmarried couples. Later in the article, however, we learn an additional statistic.

The study found that, over all, 62 percent of women ages 25 to 44 were married and 8 percent were cohabiting.

That suggests that the study did not lump married couples in with unmarried cohabiting couples. In other words, the 61 percent figure would be applied to cohabitation outside of marriage. Taking a peak at the full report is not reassuring. The authors of the study did indeed exclude married couples from the cohabiting numbers. The percentage is actually higher (63 percent) for women in their early thirties, and the report is based on information gathered in 2002, so the numbers today are probably even worse.

Fear for the future and pray for your children.


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