Mt. Vernon Register-News

Features

April 8, 2013

Unmarried couples living together is new norm, U.S. study says

Three of four women in the United States have lived with a partner without being married by age 30, an increasing trend that suggests cohabitation is now a regular part of family life, researchers said.

The survey of 12,279 women ages 15 through 44 also found that 40 percent of unmarried partners transitioned to marriage within 3 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. A third of the arrangements stayed intact without marriage, while 27 percent dissolved, the study found.

More people are putting off marriage either because they can't afford it or because it's financially risky, said Gail Wyatt, director of the University of California Los Angeles's sexual health program. About 48 percent of the women surveyed lived with a partner as a first union, compared with 34 percent in 1995. Others may view cohabitation as a way of test- driving a relationship to see if a marriage will work.

"Marriage is for people who have money and want to spend money just on the wedding itself," Wyatt said in a telephone interview. She wasn't involved in the study. "Some people would rather buy a house, or just pay the rent." People who are poor or less educated may shy away from marriage and its legal complications, she said.

A couple that shares an address counts as a "first union," as does a first marriage, according to the report. Only 23 percent of first unions were marriages in the study period, compared to 39 percent in 1995.

"Cohabitation is a common part of family formation in the United States, and serves both as a step toward marriage and as an alternative to marriage," the report said.

The Atlanta-based CDC's report used interviews starting in 2006 and ending in 2010. About 70 percent of women without high school diplomas lived with a partner as their first union, compared to 47 percent of those with a bachelor's degree, the report found. Women with less than a high school diploma were less likely to marry within 3 years, compared to peers with more education.

Pregnancy is common in common-law arrangements. About 20 percent of women became pregnant in the first year of living with a partner, and went on to give birth. The probability for marriage for these women within six months was about 19 percent, lower than in 1995.

Women without a high school diploma were more likely to become pregnant, with a third of them reporting pregnancy in the first year of living together with a partner. Only 5 percent of women with a bachelor's degree became pregnant in the same time span. Those women who got pregnant were less likely to be married.

"People, especially women, make a distinction between childbearing and marriage," said Carole Joffe, a professor of sociology at the University of San Francisco's Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, in a telephone interview. "You can get the benefits of marriage without being married, but you have to have a child to have the benefits of a child."

 The study's takeaway is that there are more statuses than married and unmarried, Joffe said. Some people are truly single, others are cohabitating, and some are married. The question is how best to support these different kinds of families, she said.

The percentage of first unions that were cohabitations rather than marriages increased 57 percent for Hispanic women, 43 percent for white women, and 39 percent for black women in 2006 through 2010, compared to a similar survey from 1995. Only Asian women weren't more likely to cohabitate before marriage.

"We have to prepare girls not to look for white dresses as the end-all, but to look at their financial opportunities and their careers," said Wyatt. "The same is true for boys."

 

1
Text Only
Features
  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.49.09 PM.png Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps

    While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 11, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 8, 2014

  • A man with amnesia taught us how memories become personal

    Although not as celebrated as the late American amnesiac H.M., for my money K.C. taught us more important and poignant things about how memory works. He showed how we make memories personal and personally meaningful. He also had a heck of a life story.

    April 7, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks