Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Latest Updates

April 10, 2013

Unmarried couples living together is new norm, U.S. study says

Three of four women in the United States have lived with a partner without being married by age 30, an increasing trend that suggests cohabitation is now a regular part of family life, researchers said.

The survey of 12,279 women ages 15 through 44 also found that 40 percent of unmarried partners transitioned to marriage within 3 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. A third of the arrangements stayed intact without marriage, while 27 percent dissolved, the study found.

More people are putting off marriage either because they can't afford it or because it's financially risky, said Gail Wyatt, director of the University of California Los Angeles's sexual health program. About 48 percent of the women surveyed lived with a partner as a first union, compared with 34 percent in 1995. Others may view cohabitation as a way of test- driving a relationship to see if a marriage will work.

"Marriage is for people who have money and want to spend money just on the wedding itself," Wyatt said in a telephone interview. She wasn't involved in the study. "Some people would rather buy a house, or just pay the rent." People who are poor or less educated may shy away from marriage and its legal complications, she said.

A couple that shares an address counts as a "first union," as does a first marriage, according to the report. Only 23 percent of first unions were marriages in the study period, compared to 39 percent in 1995.

"Cohabitation is a common part of family formation in the United States, and serves both as a step toward marriage and as an alternative to marriage," the report said.

The Atlanta-based CDC's report used interviews starting in 2006 and ending in 2010. About 70 percent of women without high school diplomas lived with a partner as their first union, compared to 47 percent of those with a bachelor's degree, the report found. Women with less than a high school diploma were less likely to marry within 3 years, compared to peers with more education.

Pregnancy is common in common-law arrangements. About 20 percent of women became pregnant in the first year of living with a partner, and went on to give birth. The probability for marriage for these women within six months was about 19 percent, lower than in 1995.

Women without a high school diploma were more likely to become pregnant, with a third of them reporting pregnancy in the first year of living together with a partner. Only 5 percent of women with a bachelor's degree became pregnant in the same time span. Those women who got pregnant were less likely to be married.

"People, especially women, make a distinction between childbearing and marriage," said Carole Joffe, a professor of sociology at the University of San Francisco's Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, in a telephone interview. "You can get the benefits of marriage without being married, but you have to have a child to have the benefits of a child."

 The study's takeaway is that there are more statuses than married and unmarried, Joffe said. Some people are truly single, others are cohabitating, and some are married. The question is how best to support these different kinds of families, she said.

The percentage of first unions that were cohabitations rather than marriages increased 57 percent for Hispanic women, 43 percent for white women, and 39 percent for black women in 2006 through 2010, compared to a similar survey from 1995. Only Asian women weren't more likely to cohabitate before marriage.

"We have to prepare girls not to look for white dresses as the end-all, but to look at their financial opportunities and their careers," said Wyatt. "The same is true for boys."

 

1
Text Only
Latest Updates
  • West Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    Security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone’s capital Thursday looking for Ebola patients and others exposed to the disease as the death toll from the worst recorded outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa.
    U.S. health officials urged Americans not to travel to the three countries hit by the medical crisis:  Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 31, 2014

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Comiskey.jpg Sterling not the only bad owner

    As the Donald Sterling era in with the Los Angeles Clippers looks to be winding down, many are calling him the worst owner in sports history. From being cheap with the players to his most recent racist comments, it's hard to argue against.
    Yet, there are a few owners of athletic teams who can give Sterling a run for title of worst in history.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1,100 layoffs planned at Alpha coal mines in W.Va.

    July 31, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Grandstands feel a little empty at NASCAR races

    Two decades after NASCAR started running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the crowds have thinned considerably. It's probably no reflection on the sport's massive following, which stretches from coast to coast, but it surely doesn't NASCAR's image help when the cameras pan across all of those empty seats.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • About 15 UMWA leaders arrested at EPA hearings

    July 31, 2014

  • More than 5,000 coal supporters protest EPA rules

    July 31, 2014