A Decade of Change in Cohabitation Across Age Groups: 2012 & 2022

This Family Profile is an update of:

Family Profile No. 3, 2024
Authors: Wendy D. Manning & Jaden Loo

Cohabitation has continued to rise in the United States with about 20 million individuals over age 15 who reported they were cohabiting in 2022 (Marino, 2022). We examine the last decade of change in cohabitation by age group among U.S. adults of all marital statuses, pinpointing the peak and trough in cohabitation from ages 18 to 64. Our estimates are a snapshot of a single point in time and do not reflect the percentage of individuals who have ever cohabited. Using Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) Current Population Survey (CPS) data from the years 2012 and 2022, we examine change in the shares of U.S. adults who are cohabiting over a ten-year period. We separate by age groups to identify age-specific trends in how these shares have changed. This profile provides an update to FP-23-07.

A Decade of Change in Cohabitation Across Age Groups: 2012 & 2022

Change in the Share Cohabiting

  • In 2012, 15,222,203 individuals 18-64 were cohabiting and the number increased to 18,404,227 in 2022. In 2012, 7.75% of 18-64 year-olds were cohabiting and this increased to 9.06% in 2022.

In 2022, over 18 million 18-64 year-olds were cohabiting.

Figure 1. Proportion Cohabiting, 2012 & 2022

fp-24-03 figure 1
Source: NCFMR analyses of IPUMS-CPS, Current Population Survey, ASEC,2012 & 2022

Share Cohabiting by Age Group

Figure 1 shows the variation in cohabitation according to age group with higher levels among young adults and lower levels among older adults. Over the decade there was an increase in cohabitation for every age group. Specifically, in 2012 the age with the greatest share of cohabiting individuals was 25 (17.6%), and in 2022 the greatest share was among those who were 28 (19.7%). In both 2012 and 2022, the lowest share of cohabiting individuals was among those aged 18 (1.7%).

  • In 2012, 9.2% of young adults (ages 18-24) cohabited and this increased slightly a decade later to 10.7% of young adults.
  • Cohabitation was most common among 25-29 year-olds and the greatest increase in cohabitation occurred among this age group. In 2012, 15.5% of 25-29 year-olds were cohabiting and a decade later the share was 19.0%.
  • Cohabitation among midlife individuals (in their 30’s and 40’s) slightly increased. Among individuals ages 30-39 cohabitation grew from 9.5% in 2012 to 11.3% in 2022. The increase was greater among individuals in their early 30’s (results not shown). Among individuals ages 40-49 cohabitation increased from 6.4% in 2012 to 7.3% in 2022.
  • Cohabitation among older adults (50-64) remained relatively stable over the past decade. The share of 50-64 year-olds who were cohabiting in 2012 was 4.3% and this increased to 4.7% in 2022.

Figure 2. Proportion of Age Groups Cohabiting, 2012 & 2022

FP-24-03 figure 2
Source: NCFMR analyses of IPUMS-CPS, Current Population Survey, ASEC,2012 & 2022

Data Source:
Flood, S., King, M., Rodgers, R., Ruggles, S., Warren, J. R., Warren, D., Chen, A., Cooper, G., Richards, S., Schouweiler, M., & Westberry, M. (2023). IPUMS, current population survey: Version 11. 0 (11.0) Current Population Survey. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS. https://doi.org/10.18128/D030.V11.0

Marino, F. A. (2022). Age variation in cohabitation, 2022. Family Profile, FP-22-28. National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://doi.org/10.25035/ncfmr/fp-22-28

Suggested Citation
Manning W. D. & Loo, J. (2024). A decade of change in cohabitation across age groups: 2012 & 2022. Family Profiles, FP-24-03. Bowling Green, OH: National Center for Family & Marriage Research. https://doi.org/10.25035/ncfmr/fp-24-03

This project is supported with assistance from Bowling Green State University. From 2007 to 2013, support was also provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policy of any agency of the state or federal government.

Updated: 04/05/2024 10:11AM