New government study examines trends in first marriages, divorces

Last updated on April 8, 2021

New research studying marriage, divorce and the decision to live with your partner before marriage has identified a change in trends that previously suggested cohabitation before marriage increased the odds of divorce for a couple.

According to the study, engaged couples who lived together before the wedding had similar odds of lasting 15 years in marriage as couples who didn’t live together prior to marriage. However, the study noted that couples who co-habitated before they became engaged faced reduced odds of lasting 10 to 15 years in marriage.

The research surveyed 22,000 men and women from across the country, including Georgia, and interviewed respondents between the ages of 15 and 44. Approximately 40 percent of the individuals surveyed were married at the time.

The study, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was conducted in part to determine how marriage and divorce trends have changed over the past 50 years. In the 1960s, about 10 percent of American couples moved in together prior to marriage. Those individuals faced higher divorce rates than other couples.

But today, roughly 60 percent of couples choose to live together before they marry.

Some experts suggest that the commonality of living together prior to marriage has alleviated the negative effects on a marriage’s stability that would have been more common 50 years ago.

Other possible explanations for this reversal in trends could be more relaxed personal and societal attitudes concerning commitment, lower education levels, or family histories that fostered pessimism toward the idea or stability of marriage.

Source: NPR, “Moving in before marriage no longer a bad omen?” March 22, 2012

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