Cohabitation: people in committed, intimate, sexual relationships living together but not married

Increasingly popular in the U.S. and other Western societies

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Why cohabit?

Test the relationship for potential marriage, convenience, and/or an alternative to marriage

Type of Union 1995 Percentage 2002 Percentage 2006 to 2010 Percentage
No union 28 27 29
Cohabitation 34 43 30
Marriage 39 30 23

Global differences in cohabitation

Extremely common in some European countries (e.g., 99% of people in Sweden live together before marriage)

Does cohabitation make marriages better?

Evidence shows no — may actually result in lower-quality marriages

Examples: European American women with children prior to marriage; those “testing” their relationship

Behavior rarely changes after cohabitation


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