Blog Post

Global Study Confirms Instability of Cohabiting Relationships

A new study of more than 16,000 people from 11 countries around the world has once again found that cohabitating relationships are less stable than that of married couples.

The Catholic Herald is reporting on the 2018 Global Family and Gender Survey (GFGS) which found that among adults age 18-50 with children under the age of 18 living at home, married couples had more confidence in the permanence of their relationship than those who were just living together.

For example, in the United States, 36 percent of cohabiting couples said they had had serious doubts about their relationship in the past year compared to only 17 percent of married couples.

The UK was even worse, with 39 percent of cohabiting couples doubting the stability of their relationship. In Australia, 35 percent were in doubt while Canada and Ireland reported 34 percent.

South American couples were less likely to have doubts, while in France, both cohabiting and married couples had only a one-percent difference in levels of doubt about the relationship.

“In addition to relationship stability, the study also found that overall, cohabiting parents were less likely to define their relationship as ‘more important than almost anything else in life’ compared with responses from married couples, though the difference varies country to country,” the Herald reports.

For example, in the US, 75 percent of married couples considered their relationship to be vital compared to just 56 percent of cohabiting couples.

The study brief, written by Wendy Wang and W. Bradford Wilcox, noted that a growing number of children in developed countries today are being raised by parents who are living together but not married.

“In general, the findings in this Institute for Family Studies Research Brief correspond to research indicating that cohabiting families tend to be less stable for children than married families. Data from our 2017 World Family Map report indicate that children born to cohabiting parents in Europe and the United States are about 90% more likely to see their parents break up, compared to children born to married parents,” the report states.

“Differences in stability between cohabiting and married families are noteworthy because children are more likely to thrive in stable families.5 That’s because children tend to do better when their lives are marked by stable routines with stable caregivers. This brief, then, suggests that in many countries across the Americas, Europe, and Oceania, children may be more likely to experience such stability in a married family than in a cohabiting family.

Run by the Institute for Family Studies/Wheatley Institution, the GFGS conducted 16,474 online interviews with adults ages 18-50, in the countries of France, Canada, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, US, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina.

© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®