A Report on Living Together: The Economics of Cohabitation

Jun 27, 2011

Cohabitation is an increasingly prevalent lifestyle in the United States. The share of 30- to 44-year-olds living as unmarried couples has more than doubled since the mid-1990s. Adults with lower levels of education—without college degrees—are twice as likely to cohabit as those with college degrees.

A new Pew Research Center analysis of census data suggests that less-educated adults are less likely to realize the economic benefits associated with cohabitation. The typical college-educated cohabiter is at least as well off as a comparably educated married adult and better off than an adult without an opposite-sex partner. By contrast, a cohabiter without a college degree typically is worse off than a comparably educated married adult and no better off economically than an adult without an opposite-sex partner. (Most adults without opposite-sex partners live with other adults or children.)

Among the 30- to 44-year-old U.S. adults who are the focus of this report, 7% lived with an opposite-sex partner in 2009, according to census data. The share is higher among adults without a college education (8%) than among those with college degrees (4%).

Read the full report Living Together: The Economics of Cohabitation on the Pew Social & Demographic Trends Web site.

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