For decades, scores of studies have suggested couples living together before getting married are more likely to get divorced. New data gleaned from the census suggests otherwise.
Women were 28 percent less likely to get divorced if they lived with their future spouses—but only if they hadn’t been married before. (Divorce rates for folks who cohabit more than once rise precipitously.)
Some researchers suggest this positive spin on cohabitation can be attributed partly to the fact living together is much more common and socially acceptable these days. About 9.6 percent of all opposite-sex couples living together were unmarried, which presumably means more stable couples feel it’s OK to live together.
“The nature of cohabitation has changed,” said Jay Teachman, a sociology professor at Western Washington University. “Cohabitators 20 years ago were the rule breakers, the rebels, the risk takers—the folks who were not as interested in marriage and using cohabitation as an alternative to marriage.”