The Full Wiki

More info on Cohabitation in the United States

Cohabitation in the United States: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Cohabitation in the United Statesmarker is illegal in six states but a total of 4.85 million couples live together.


In most parts of the United States, there is no legal registration or definition of cohabitation, so demographers have developed various methods of identifying cohabitation and measuring its prevalence. Most important of these is the Census Bureau, which currently describes an "unmarried partner" as "A person age 15 years and over, who is not related to the householder, who shares living quarters, and who has a close personal relationship with the householder." Before 1995, the Bureau euphemistically identified any "unrelated" opposite-sex couple living with no other adults as POSSLQs, or Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters., and they still report these numbers to show historical trends. However, such measures should be taken loosely, as researchers report that cohabitation often does not have clear start and end dates, as people move in and out of each other's homes and sometimes do not agree on the definition of their living arrangement at a particular moment.

In 2001, in the United States 8.2% of couples were calculated to be cohabiting, majority of them were in the West Coast and New Englandmarker/Northeastern United States areas.

In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 4.85 million cohabiting couples, up more than 1,000 percent from 1960, when there were 439,000 such couples. A 2000 study found that more than half of newlyweds have lived together, at least briefly, before marrying.

The cohabiting population is inclusive of all ages, but the average cohabiting age group is between 25-34.


A study was made of premarital cohabitation of women who are in a monogamous relationship. The study showed "women who are committed to one relationship, who have both premarital sex and cohabit only with the man they eventually marry, have no higher incidence of divorce than women who abstain from premarital sex and cohabitation. For women in this category, premarital sex and cohabitation with their eventual husband are just two more steps in developing a committed, long-term relationship." Teachman's findings report instead that "It is only women who have more than one intimate premarital relationship who have an elevated risk of marital disruption. This effect is strongest for women who have multiple premarital coresidental unions."

Some people have claimed that those who live together before marriage can report having less satisfying marriages and have a higher chance of separating. A possible explanation for this trend could be that people who cohabit prior to marriage did so because of apprehension towards commitment, and when, following marriage, marital problems arose (or, for that matter, before marriage, when relationship problems arose during the cohabitation arrangement), this apprehension was more likely to translate into an eventual separation. It should be noted this model cites antecedent apprehension concerning commitment as the cause of increased break ups and cohabitation only as an indicator of such apprehension. Another explanation is that those who choose not to cohabit prior to marriage are often more conservative in their religious views and may hold more traditional views on gender roles, a mindset that might prevent them from divorcing for religious reasons or confronting crisis in relationships despite experiencing marital problems no less severe than those encountered by former cohabitants. In addition, the very act of living together may lead to attitudes that make happy marriages more difficult. The findings of one recent study, for example, suggest "there may be less motivation for cohabiting partners to develop their conflict resolution and support skills." (One important exception: cohabiting couples who are already planning to marry each other in the near future have just as good a chance at staying together as couples who don’t live together before marriage).

A 2001 study indicated that people who cohabited experienced a divorce rate 50% higher after marriage than those who did not.

Legal status

Some places, including the state of California, have laws that recognize cohabiting couples as "domestic partners". In California, such couples are defined as people who "have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring," including having a "common residence, and are the same sex or persons of opposite sex if one or both of the persons are over the age of 62" This recognition led to the creation of a Domestic Partners Registry, granting them limited legal recognition and some rights similar to those of married couples.

Half a century ago, it was illegal in every state for adult lovers to live together without being married. Today, on the other hand, just six states (Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, North Dakota and Michigan) still criminalize cohabitation by opposite-sex couples, although anti-cohabitation laws are generally not enforced. Many legal scholars believe that in light of in Lawrence v. Texas, such laws making cohabitation illegal are unconstitutional (North Carolina Superior Court judge Benjamin Alford has struck down the North Carolina law on that basis).

See also


External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address