More women choosing living together over marriage

BOWLING GREEN, O.—If it seems like more women are choosing to live with a partner instead of get married, you’re right. According to researchers at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, the percentage of women who have cohabitated with someone has almost doubled over the past 25 years.

Dr. Wendy Manning, a professor of sociology and co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, and graduate student Bart Stykes, analyzed and prepared the family profile.

“I was surprised to see the level increase in the last five years.  Almost 70 percent of women have lived with a cohabiting partner. It is becoming increasingly rare to not cohabit,” explained Manning.

In 1987, one-third of women ages 19-44 had lived with a partner and by 2011-13 that number had jumped to almost two-thirds. While all age groups experienced an increase in cohabitation, the greatest increase in cohabitation occurred in women age 40-44.

Cohabitation continues to be the typical pathway to marriage as over two-thirds of women who first married in the last decade lived with their partner before the wedding. Younger women still appear to prefer living with a partner to tying the knot. The majority—65 percent—of partnered women ages 19-24 reported being in a cohabiting, instead of marital, union in 2011-13.

“Most young women will eventually marry, they just decide to live together first,” Manning said.