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Cohabitation Before Marriage Increases The Risk Of Divorce




By Margarita Nahapetyan

A new government study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that couples who live together before they get married, increase the risk that their marriage will fail. However, their chances improve if they were already engaged when they began earlier cohabitation.

The study took a closer look at couples who live together before getting married, taking into consideration factors such as race and ethnicity, level of education, upbringing and whether couples were engaged when they moved in. According to the report, men who were engaged when they moved in together with their future wife, had approximately the same odds that their marriage would survive at least 10 years as those couples who did not cohabit before going to the altar: 71 per cent for engaged men and 69 per cent for men who did not cohabit. As to engaged women, the probability that their marriage would last for 10 years was similar (65 per cent) to the probability for women who did not move in together with their partner before marriage (66 per cent).

Among the other findings:

  • 50 per cent of couples who cohabit get married within three years.

  • If both partners are college graduates, it is more likely that they will get married and that their marriage will survive at least ten years.

  • Couples who marry after the age of 26 years or have a child eight months or more they get married, have more chances to to stay married for more than 10 years.

  • Nearly 62 per cent of women with the ages between 25 and 44 years were married and 8 per cent were cohabiting with their partner. Among men, the numbers were 59 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

  • Overall, one in 5 marriages will not survive even five years, and one in 3 will survive less than 10 years.

Married or not, but having both parents who stay together seems to make a big difference in whether girls get married later on, the report says. It was revealed that overall, women who do not live with two parents at the age of 14 years (a cut-off age used in demographic studies), were less likely to be married at the date of interview (36 per cent versus 48 per cent) and more likely to be cohabiting (14 per cent against 8 per cent) when compared to girls who grew up with both parents. Women who lived with both parents at age 14 were more likely to be married at the date of interview than women who grew up with one parent.

The share who had ever married varied significantly by race and ethnicity: 63 per cent of white women, 39 per cent of African American women and 58 per cent of Hispanic women. Among men, the differences were less striking. Fifty-three per cent of white men, 42 per cent of African American men and 50 per cent of Hispanic men were married or had been previously married at the time of the survey. By their early 40s, most white and Hispanic men and women were married, but only 44 per cent of black women were.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study was based on a 2002 survey of men and women for the National Survey of Family Growth.



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