Couples who live together before they get married are less likely to stay married, a new study has found. But their chances improve if they were already engaged when they began living together.
The likelihood that a marriage would last for a decade or more decreased by six percentage points if the couple had cohabited first, the study found.
The study of men and women ages 15 to 44 was done by the National Center for Health Statistics using data from the National Survey of Family Growth conducted in 2002. The authors define cohabitation as people who live with a sexual partner of the opposite sex.
I'm not sure why this is a "new study" since we have talked about this example (Cohabitation=Divorce) in my Intro classes for years now. And the reason we talk about it is because it's the classic spurious correlation. The act of "living in sin" itself doesn't cause this, but if we introduce other independent variables into the mix (say, religiosity), then the relationship becomes more clear.
One thing that is interesting, however, is the relationship between education, age, cohabitation and divorce.
Half of couples who cohabit marry within three years, the study found. If both partners are college graduates, the chances improve that they will marry and that their marriage will last at least 10 years.It's also that way when studying marriage and divorce rates in general (w/out cohabitation as a variable). Generally, the older and more educated you are when you marry, the longer the marriage will last.
“The figures suggest to me that cohabitation is still a pathway to marriage for many college graduates, while it may be an end in itself for many less educated women,” said Kelly A. Musick, a professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell.Couples who marry after age 26 or have a baby eight months or more after marrying are also more likely to stay married for more than a decade.
The study also offers new racial and ethnic data to throw into the mix.
In general, one in five marriages will dissolve within five years. One in three will last less than 10 years. Those figures varied by race, ethnicity and gender. The likelihood of black men and women remaining married for 10 years or more was 50 percent. The probability for Hispanic men was the highest, 75 percent. Among women, the odds are 50-50 that their marriage will last less than 20 years.The power of sociology, next time on "Sociological Perspective".
By their early 40s, most white and Hispanic men and women were married, but only 44 percent of black women were.