Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Social psychology: Altruism · Attribution · Attitudes · Conformity · Discrimination · Groups · Interpersonal relations · Obedience · Prejudice · Norms · Perception · Index · Outline

Close Relationships

Bride price
Ground rules
Open marriage
Platonic love

Cohabitation is an emotionally- and physically-intimate relationship which includes a common living place and which exists without legal or religious sanction.

Couples commonly choose to live together for one or more reasons: wanting to test compatibility or establish financial security before marrying, a desire to live as married when same-sex, interracial, or interreligious marriages are not legal or permitted, living with someone before marriage as a way to avoid divorce, a way for polygamists to avoid anti-polygamy laws, a way to avoid the higher income taxes paid by some two-income married couples (in the United States), negative effects on pension payments (among older people), and seeing little difference between the commitment to live together and the commitment to marriage.

Some couples prefer cohabitation because it does not legally commit them for an extended period of time, and because it is easier to establish and dissolve without the long and pricey legal costs often associated with a divorce. In some countries (such as Scotland) and some states in the United States, such cohabitations can be viewed legally as common-law marriages, either after the duration of a specified period or the birth of a child of the couple, or if the couple consider one another as husband and wife and behave accordingly. (This helps provide the surviving partner a legal basis for inheriting the deceased's belongings in the event of the death of their cohabiting partner.)

Today, cohabitation is a common pattern among younger people in the Western world, especially those who desire marriage but whose financial situation temporarily precludes it, or who wish to prepare for what married life will be like before actually getting married. More and more couples choose to have long-term relationships without marriage, and cohabitate as a permanent arrangement.

Opposition[edit | edit source]

Traditionally[dubious] in the Western world, a man and a woman who lived together without being married were socially shunned and persecuted and potentially prosecuted by law. In some jurisdictions, cohabitation was illegal until quite recently. Other jurisdictions have created a Common-law marriage status when two people of the opposite sex live together for a prescribed period of time.

Opposition to cohabitation comes mainly from conservative religious and family ethics groups. Religious arguments aside, opponents to cohabitation usually argue that living together (as opposed to marriage) is unstable and hence harmful for both partners, as well as for the children (if there are such). According to one argument, the total and unconditional commitment of marriage strengthens a couple's bond and makes the partners feel more secure, more relaxed, and happier than those that have chosen to 'test the waters'.[1] Opponents of cohabitation commonly cite statistics that indicate that couples who have lived together before marriage are more likely to divorce, and that unhappiness, ill health, poverty, and domestic violence are more common in unmarried couples than in married ones.[2] Cohabitation advocates, in turn, cite research that either disproves these claims or indicates that the statistical differences are due to other factors than the fact of cohabitation itself.[3]

Cohabitation worldwide[edit | edit source]

United States[edit | edit source]

Statistics[edit | edit source]

In some 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."[4] 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.[5], 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 time.[6]

As of 2001, in the United States 8.2% of couples were cohabiting, and the regions where cohabitation were found to be more common is in the New England and West Coast regions.[7]

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 lived together, at least briefly, before walking down the aisle.

The cohabiting population is inclusive of all ages, but the average cohabiting age group is between 25-34[8].

Legal status[edit | edit source]

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."[9] This recognition led to the creation of a "Domestic Partners Registry", which is available to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples in which at least one of the partners is age 62 or older, granting them limited legal recognition and some rights similar to those of married couples.

Decades ago, it was illegal in every state for adult lovers to live together without being married. Today, on the other hand, just seven (7) states (North Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, North Dakota and Michigan) still criminalize cohabitation by opposite-sex couples, although anti-cohabitation laws are generally not enforced. [10] Many legal scholars believe that in light of in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) such laws making cohabitation illegal are unconstitutional (North Carolina Superior Court judge Benjamin Alford has struck down the North Carolina law on that basis).[11]

Europe[edit | edit source]

  • In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, cohabitation is very common; roughly 50% of all children are born into families of unmarried couples, whereas the same figure for several other Western European countries is roughly 10%.
  • In late 2005, 21% of families in Finland consisted of cohabitating couples (all age groups). Of couples with children, 18% were cohabitating[12]. Of ages 18 and above in 2003, 13.4% were cohabitating[13]. Generally, cohabitation amongst Finns is most common for people under 30. Legal obstacles for cohabitation were removed in 1926 in a reform of the Finnish penal code, while the phenomenon was socially accepted much later on among non-Christian Finns.
  • In the UK, 25% of children are now born to cohabiting parents.
  • In France, 17.5% of couples were cohabiting as of 1999.[7]

Middle East[edit | edit source]

  • The cohabitation rate in Israel is less than 3% of all couples, compared to 8%, on average, in West European countries. [1]
  • Cohabitation is illegal according to Islamic law (for the countries that follow it)[14][15]

According to Shia Islam marriage doesn't need any witness or official statement or presence in a definite place [16] and its sufficient that man and woman intend to marry with each other and say specific words to each other which led to a religious contract between them[17][18] and a couple can live with each other as a family without official contract. Of course there are some criteria which woman should observe e.g. she should be single. [19][20]

Asia[edit | edit source]

  • In Japan, according to M. Iwasawa at the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, less than 3% of females between 25-29 are currently cohabiting, but more than 1 in 5 have had some experience of an unmarried partnership, including cohabitation.
  • In the Philippines, around 2.4 million Filipinos (18% of population) were cohabitating as of 2004 . The vast majority of them are between the ages of 20-24. Poverty was often the main factor in decision to cohabitate.[21]

Pacific[edit | edit source]

North America - other[edit | edit source]

  • In Canada, 16.0% of couples were cohabiting as of 2001 (29.8.% in Quebec, and 11.7% in the other provinces).[7]
  • In Mexico, 18.7% of couples were cohabiting as of 2005.[7]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Morse, Jennifer Roback Why Not Take Her for a Test Drive?. URL accessed on 2007-04-19.
  2. Are there reasons why I shouldn't move in with my boyfriend?. URL accessed on 2007-04-17.
  3. The Experts Speak.. URL accessed on 2007-06-27. On the website of the Alternatives to marriage project.
  4. See "Household Type and Relationship".
  5. See "Current Population Survey (CPS) - Definitions and Explanations"
  6. Manning, Wendy D. and Pamela J. Smock. 2005. "Measuring and Modeling Cohabitation: New Perspectives from Qualitative Data." Journal of Marriage and Family 67(4):989-1002.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Anne-Marie Ambert: Cohabitation and Marriage: How Are They Related?. The Vanier Institute of the Family, Fall 2005)
  8. Cohabitation is replacing dating USA Today 7/17/2005
  9. See California Family Code Section 297.
  11. See "Judge strikes down law banning cohabitation" and "N.C. law banning cohabitation struck down".
  12. The Finnish population structure of 2005 at Statistics Finland (Finnish/Swedish)
  13. Elected MPs and candidates by family type in 2003 at Statistics Finland (English)
  14. See commentary on verses
    1. REDIRECT: Template:Cite quran
    Vol. 3, notes 7-1, p. 241; 2000, Islamic Publications
  15. Tafsir ibn Kathir 4:24
  16. Witnesses for Marriage
  17. The method of pronouncing the marriage formula
  18. Marriage formula
  20. Women with whom matrimony is Haraam

External links[edit | edit source]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.