19 May 2022


Demographic Change: Cohabitation

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Family life is changing drastically. In the United States today, there are many forms of marriages that are being formalized, with others receiving significant global attention as opposed to others. One of the forms of marriages that are taking center stage is cohabitation; being the new form of marriage among the millennials. Cohabitation has received worldwide acceptance with only a few people opposing the act. More women are choosing to live with their male counterparts first before deciding to make further steps such as engagement. In what researchers call the ‘first unions’, nearly half women (48%) moved in with their significant other with no wedding vows. This according to an interview conducted between 2006 and 2010. Over time, the data scaled up to 43% in 2002 from 34% in 2005 (US Census, 2010). 

From the sample study, most of the participants claim that they do not need the legal document to certify their marriage. 50% of women aged between 15 and 44 years have cohabited at some point in their life (CDC, 2010). 40% percent of people in this type of relationship become marriages after three years while 32% continue as cohabitation. By the time they are 20, 1 in 4 women aged between 15 to 44 years have lived with a man, and these figures climb to 3 in every 4 by the time they are 30 years. 

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The majority of Americans who believe in cohabitation compromise two thirds of the adults (65%) while only a third (35%) strongly disagree with the activity (CDC, 2010). In line with this, 41% of Christians are highly unlikely to believe that cohabitation is a good idea with those having no religious affiliation (88%) believing that there is no problem with cohabitation. Millennials have come of age, and with their influence on ideologies, they are the ones that form the highest population supporting cohabitation at 72%. The elders are half as likely (36%) to accept the idea. Liberals with a progressive ideology are twice as likely as conservatives to believe that cohabitation is a good idea.

Sociobiology as an application of evolution theory can help explain why the rate of cohabitation is increasing at an alarming rate. Sociobiology as a school of thought claims that some behaviors are partly inherited while others can be affected by natural selection (Calhoun, 2012). Thusly, due to the high rate of divorce amongst adults, the succeeding generations prefer to cohabit as a means by which to escape the strains involved in marriage divorces. As such, those aiming to engage in a free marriage environment choose to as a means of escaping from the hardships that come with divorces, such as alimony. 

The rational choice theory plays a huge role in cohabitation matters among the millennials. This can be seen through the window of economic pressure (Calhoun, 2012). Among one of the advantage that accompanies cohabitation is a matter of reduced economic burden. This is because there is now shared responsibilities between the two parties. As such, it is only through the effective calculation of costs and benefit is when the couples decide that living together is the best choice. Further, the contemporary economy holds up for the deterioration of men’s jobs in the labor market. During the traditional days, the labor market was highly influenced by the male community. With factors such as feminists’ agenda, there has been a shift in paradigm where women just like men hold office positions reducing the male earning power. With this reduction, the men are priced out of marriages, but the desirability of a union does not reduce hence the need for a lesser cost of commitment. Thus, cohabitation finds it path as an alternative to marital union.  


Calhoun, C. (2012) Contemporary Sociological Theory. John Wiley & Sons. 

CDC. (2010) Marriage and Cohabitation in the United States: A Statistical Portrait Based on Cycle 6 (2002) of the National Survey of Family Growth . Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_028.pdf  

US Census. (2010) Shifting Family Definitions: The Effect of Cohabitation and Other Nonfamily Household Relationships on Measures of Poverty. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/hhes/povmeas/publications/taxes/shft_cen.html  

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