VII. Research on Cohabitation

  • Cohabiting Couples Higher Risk for Divorce
    Olson & Larson (2006)
  • Overview of Cohabitation Research
    Olson & Olson-Sigg (2007)

pdf-iconCohabitation Couples Higher Risk for Divorce (2006)
David H. Olson & Peter Larson
Cohabiting couples have a significantly higher risk for divorce than non-cohabiting couples. Based on a national sample of 2,000 premarital couples, they were classified into one of four couple types. Compared to non-cohabiting couples, cohabiting couples comprised a smaller percentage in the most successful couple type (Vitalized) and a significantly larger percentage in the most problematic couple type (Conflicted).

pdf-iconOverview of Cohabitation Research (2007)
David H. Olson & Amy K. Olson-Sigg
There are now over 5.1 million heterosexual couples cohabiting in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2006), which is a tenfold increase from 1970 when only 500,000 couples were cohabiting. The current rate of cohabitation before marriage is nearly 70%. This means that for 70% of young people their first couple experience is cohabitation rather than marriage. About half of cohabitating couples marry or break up after 2 years of cohabitation (Kennedy and Bumpass, 2007).

Of the cohabiting couples that have recently married, 58% lived with their partner before marriage and 14% of those had also lived with someone else other than the person they married (Kennedy and Bumpass, 2007).

Using data on premarital couples who took PREPARE/ENRICH in 2006, about 40% of premarital couples had cohabited with their partner before marriage (Olson, 2007). This finding is based on a national sample of over 50,000 premarital couples who took PREPARE, PREPARE-MC and PREPARE-CC. The percentage of cohabiting couples varied by inventory: 100% for PREPARE-CC; 30% for PREPARE and 44% for those who took PREPARE-MC.