Marriage vs. Cohabitation Rates in the U.S.
During the last five decades, marriage rates have steadily declined while cohabitation rates have exponentially increased. Americans have become less likely to marry. From 1970 to 2010, the marriage rate declined more than 50 percent (figure on the left above). Between 1960 and 2010, the number of unmarried couples in America increased more than 17-fold (figure on the right above). More than 60 percent of first marriages are now preceded by living together, compared to virtually none 50 years ago.
Equally shocking is the growing acceptance of cohabitation, even among Catholics. This week, the Pew Research Center published a study on Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S. Only 14% percent of those surveyed believe that it is never acceptable for two unmarried adults in a romantic relationship to live together. About half (48%) of people surveyed say that couples who cohabitate before marriage are more likely to have a successful marriage. About six-in-ten (59%) say that cohabitating couples can raise children as successfully as married couples. Surprisingly, the study found that about three-quarters of Catholics (74%) say it is acceptable for an unmarried couple to live together even if they do not plan to get married.
Perception does not equal reality.