Who's shacking up today? Just about everyone

Economics and a changing society are encouraging people to live together before marriage -- or as an alternative to it.

By Bruce Kennedy Apr 8, 2013 8:53AM

Image: Watching television (© Maria Teijeiro/Getty Images/Getty Images)Whether as a step toward marriage or an alternative to marriage, more Americans are now living together, according to a new survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, as the Los Angeles Times put it, "cohabitation is now more common among younger women than living with a spouse or living alone."

And the rates of living together have grown across all ethnic and racial classifications, with the exception of Asian women. And while American society and culture have been changing, some significant economic factors are also in play.

The CDC study was based primarily on first-person interviews with more than 12,000 women ages 15 to 44 between 2006 and 2010.

Nearly half -- 48% -- of the women interviewed during that period said they lived with a partner, compared with 34% of women polled during a similar study in 1995.

And 40% of those "first premarital cohabitations," as the CDC calls them, transitioned into marriage within three years, while 32% remained cohabitating and 27% of those unions "dissolved."

Education apparently plays a factor, as 70% of women with less than a high school diploma cohabitated, compared with 47% of women with a bachelor's degree or higher.

Living together before marriage can have financial benefits. According to the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, more Americans are waiting until their late 20s and early 30s to get married so they can complete their formal education and enter the workplace.

And according to the project's recent report, called "Knot Yet," college-educated women who wait until age 30 or later to marry enjoy an annual income premium income of more than $18,000. It also notes that couples who marry older are less likely to divorce than those who marry in their teens and early 20s.

The current economic uncertainty is also an issue. "Cohabiting couples may be waiting for improved financial stability before they make a decision to marry and, in the process, become pregnant and have a baby," Casey Copen, one of the CDC study's authors and a demographer with the National Center for Health Statistics, told US News & World Report. "As you cohabit longer, there's more of a chance to become pregnant."

For that matter, the probability of a pregnancy occurring within a "cohabitating union" has increased from 15% in 1995 to 19% during the 2006-10 CDC survey period.

More on moneyNOW

Apr 8, 2013 2:50PM
Married - Now we have Obama's marriage tax.
Married - You pay for health care and the kids.
Unmarried - Woman gets Aid to Dept Children, food stamps, Medicaid for the kids, free lunches at school, no co-pays for the kids.

It's not rocket science.  Don't get married and Obama has all sorts of benefits for you and yours.

Get married and make too much ...watch your benefits disappear.

Retired married and on SS.  Welcome to the marriage penalty for being married.

Apr 8, 2013 3:48PM
Not everyone. Some people still have values about such things.
Apr 8, 2013 7:06PM
Got married first. Wedding cost less than $5000. I was in my  early 20s. Now, almost 12 years and 3 kiddos later, happier than ever. Yay for traditional values.
Apr 8, 2013 4:12PM

People like to proclaim that others "have no values" if they choose to live together instead of getting married. It seems to me that they simply don't value marriage. Why should they? Marriage doesn't make you love your partner any more or less and certainly doesn't make people more faithful. It's quite possible to share your life very happily with someone without getting married. I guess some people just feel better having that piece of paper.

Apr 8, 2013 5:27PM
I'm not shocked. Much easier to split living expenses with another person. It seems 1-bedroom apartments are priced for 2 incomes anyway!
Apr 8, 2013 5:33PM
so. people are waiting to save money for getting married but not waiting to have a baby?!  that just sounds stupid! if you cant afford a wedding, you cant afford a baby. they have pills and medical procedures to prevent pregnancy for a reason!!
Apr 8, 2013 3:44PM
I don't live for the world I live for God and shacking up is something I couldn't do no matter how cheap it is.
Apr 8, 2013 10:06AM

At a cost of $28,000 for the average wedding, no wonder.Back in the 1980`s you used to

hear of common law marriages when men got cleaned out financially, but I don`t hear

of that anymore.

Apr 8, 2013 6:56PM
My lady invited me over for dinner 28 years ago. I'm still here.
Apr 8, 2013 10:46AM
Married /divorced supported 2 other kids who's father jim from St Louis was a dead beat. She's got bed rid health problems and I pay support for her. It's peace of mind and tax write off. Once was enough.
Apr 8, 2013 7:27PM

No wonder so many women are choosing to stay UNWED.  As I skim through the negative views towards women posted in these comments, who would want to be involved with any of you.  Some of your language and views are appalling. 

Apr 8, 2013 4:06PM

Its the moral decay of American people that has caused these women to devalue themselves into thinking that just living with someone is OK.  It is not, kids have a right to a father and mother that live together and are married.   This is not the right message to send to younger people.  They need to wake up, get some moral values, and grow up.


Apr 8, 2013 11:34AM
Single family home will become Dual family home.
Apr 8, 2013 7:52PM

There is no fear of God in this Country today.


Apr 8, 2013 3:58PM

It's not that complicated. Find a person with EMPATHY to marry,

if you want to get married.

And more importantly if you want to get married and HAVE CHILDREN.

Be able to identify a SOCIOPATH and understand that often, though not always,


A lack of Empathy = a Narcissist.

A lack of Conscience = a ASPD/Sociopath/Psychopath



There are 1 in 25 that secretly has no conscience and therefore no empathy.

EMPATHY is a pre-requisite of love.

Normal people want somebody to love. Sociopaths want somebody to suck the energy, money and love right out of us.


Apr 8, 2013 5:08PM
Why can't the gays be happy with this?
Apr 8, 2013 6:29PM

Its a "duh" result of Courts sidestepping their responsibility when they implemented "no fault" divorce on top of insane divorce settlements decided more for political correctness than true fairness.  What person making a high income wants to be subject to giving half of it away to a spouse who did nothing more than sign a piece of paper.  The spouse who after 20 to 30 years of marriage, raising kids and putting the "other" thru school deserves half for sure....but most divorces these days are out of short term marriages...no kids, and both work.    Add to that the slow breakdown of all our traditional values of marriage, religion, etc., we are becoming a secular society.  Marriagless unions are convenient to enter and convenient to depart...... responsibility avoidence.....

Apr 8, 2013 3:08PM
I would love statistic info on home sharing, i.e. room-mates? I am beginning to think this would be a great option for a single parent.
Apr 8, 2013 6:13PM
Most who live together are, in fact, married already.  Marriage was instituted by God and the government cannot improve or destroy it one bit.  Civil marriages exist so that the married partners can obtain the over 1,000 federal and state benefits that accompany a licensed marriage.  Marriage takes place when a man and a women decide to join as one to share their lives one with another.  Sexual union consummates the marital relationship.  That is it.  No government permission is necessary.  Friends with benefits and one night stands are either fornication or adultery, but people committed to one another without a government piece of paper are simply married. 
Apr 8, 2013 7:33PM
When I was very young, I wanted to get my own apt.  I had a steady boyfriend and my mom was afraid I'd end up shacking up with him, so she forbid me to get an apt.  So I ended up marrying him and it was the worst thing I ever did.  Moms ruled back in the day.
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