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Cohabitation Family Sociology

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Presentation on theme: "Cohabitation Family Sociology"— Presentation transcript:

1 Cohabitation Family Sociology

2 Cohabitation Let’s begin with a definition of cohabitation:
Cohabitation: The sharing of a household by unmarried individuals who have a sexual relationship Generally there are two types of cohabitation 1) Both partners plan to marry each other in the near future. 2) Cohabitation as alternative to marriage.

3 Cohabitation The Census Bureau refers to cohabitors as:
Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters or POSSLQs

4 Number of Unmarried Couples who are Cohabiting
McGraw-Hill College Source: Bumpass & Sweet, 1989. 8-2

5 In 2007: 6.4 million opposite-sex unmarried couples are living together Four out of 10, or approximately 2.5 million opposite-sex unmarried couples, lived with at least one biological child of either partner

6 Currently Cohabiting vs. Ever Cohabited
Approximately 10 percent of women and 12 percent of men are currently cohabiting (Casper & Bianchi) This is the measure of cohabiting at a given point in time (a snapshot) A larger proportion of people have ever cohabited More than 67 percent of marriages today are preceded by cohabitation (Source: Kennsdy & Bumpass, 2007) How can the current cohabitation rates be different by sex?

7 Cohabitation In 2000, Census Bureau estimates of cohabitation
About 11 million people (5.5 million couples) living with an unmarried partner in the U.S. Of these: 9.7 million are unmarried different-sex partners and 1.2 million are unmarried same-sex partners Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census


9 Survey of high school seniors shows
In 1976: Only 40% of high school seniors endorsed cohabitation before marriage In 2006: 64% of high school seniors endorse cohabitation prior to marriage Source:

10 Cohabitation What are some of the reasons for the rise in cohabitation? 1) Feminism Increase in female education Increased employment opportunities for women Career goals changed, more jobs opening to women. Women’s increasing participation in the paid workforce means less economic need to depend on a man in marriage.

11 Cohabitation In sum: Because women have the potential for greater independence, they may be less willing to commit to a relationship, until they “try it out”

12 Cohabitation What are some of the reasons for the rise in cohabitation? 2) Sexual Revolution Development of better contraceptive technologies In other words, people could plan when to have children This was a very revolutionary concept More sexual permissiveness and along with that -- pre-marital sex has become more readily accepted Source: Bailey, B. in Skolnick & Skolnick text

13 Cohabitation What are some of the reasons for the rise in cohabitation? 3) Major cultural shifts have occurred in U.S., thus our society in general has become     less religious     less bound by social conformity     more individual autonomy and greater freedom of choice People no longer do things just because “that’s the way it’s done”

14 Cohabitation Couples who cohabit prior to marriage have a higher divorce rate than couples who did not cohabit This is the result of a selection effect, people who cohabit may be less traditional and more likely to divorce in general Thus, cohabiting does NOT CAUSE divorce

15 Selection Effect then marries dates then marries dates then cohabits
More traditional couple then marries dates Less traditional couple then marries dates then cohabits

16 Selection Effect Think about how a more traditional couple might differ in their views of marriage or divorce compared to a less traditional couple? In other words -- besides the fact that they cohabit or not – what differentiates these types of couples?

17 Cohabitation There are three different ways to conceive of cohabitation: An alternative, but more intimate form of single life A stage in the process of becoming married A distinct arrangement unlike being single or married

18 Cohabitation Among what group of people in the U.S. did cohabitation first start? Cohabitation began in the lower classes  then moved to middle classes More advantageous for minorities and poorer whites with low economic status Male income and employment is lower

19 Cohabitation Male economic status is still an important determinant of ability to marry and why women want to marry him Thus, marriage will be less likely if the male or couple is poor

20 Cohabitation 6 possible social barriers to marriage among disadvantaged Americans: 1) marital aspirations and expectations 2) norms about childbearing 3) financial standards for marriage 4) quality of their relationships 5) aversion to divorce 6) children by other partners Source: Edin & Reed, 2005

21 Cohabitation Cohabitation has been more common among the poor because many social programs cut off benefits for people (particularly women) who marry – Social Security Alimony Welfare New Welfare reform laws have changed this – you no longer immediately lose benefits if you marry

22 Cohabitation Cohabiting couples have higher break up rates than married couples About ½ of cohabiting couples either break-up or marry within 1 year. 9 in 10 cohabiting couples marry within 5 years.

23 Cohabitation and children
Another big change associated with cohabitation is the increase in the cohabiting households “with children present” In 2007, 4 out of 10 opposite sex cohabiting partners had children from one or both partners 40% of births outside marriage to cohabitating couples

24 Characteristics of Cohabitating Couples
Cohabiting couples are less traditional than married couples: For example, cohabiting couples are more likely to: have an older woman/younger man than married couples (Go Cougars!) have a woman who earns more money than man than married couples be interracial

25 Research by Yabiku & Gager
Cohabitors have higher rates of sexual frequency and are more likely break up if frequency is low (compared to married couples) Why? Married couples may expect lower sexual frequency Married couples share more assets, (houses) and are more likely to live with children related to BOTH parents (compared with cohabiting couples)

26 Research by Yabiku & Gager
In sum: cohabitors who report low sexual frequency are more likely to break up than married couples who report low sexual frequency again, cohabitors are less traditional than married couples

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