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Title: Cohabitation  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Divorce, Psychology of sexual monogamy, Reconciliation (family law), Family, Marriage
Collection: Criticism of Marriage, Family, Intimate Relationships, Living Arrangements
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Cohabitation is an arrangement where two people who are not married live together in an emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationship on a long-term or permanent basis.

"Cohabitation" usually refers to unmarried couples who live together without formally registering their relation as a marriage.[1][2] Such arrangements have become increasingly common in Western countries during the past few decades, being led by changing social views, especially regarding marriage, gender roles and religion.

More broadly, the term cohabitation can mean any number of people living together. To "cohabit", in a broad sense, means to "coexist".[3] The origin of the term comes from the mid 16th century, from the Latin cohabitare, from co- 'together' + habitare 'dwell'.[4]


  • Social changes leading to increase 1
  • Reasons for cohabitation in the United States 2
  • Contemporary objections to cohabitation before marriage 3
  • Religious views 4
  • Effects on marriage and family life 5
    • Likelihood of split 5.1
    • Effect on children 5.2
    • Abuse and infidelity 5.3
    • Financial effects 5.4
    • No effect 5.5
  • Legal prohibitions 6
  • By region 7
    • United States 7.1
    • Latin America 7.2
    • Asia 7.3
    • Europe 7.4
      • Britain 7.4.1
      • Bulgaria 7.4.2
      • Hungary 7.4.3
      • Ireland 7.4.4
      • Poland 7.4.5
      • Slovakia 7.4.6
    • Middle East 7.5
    • Oceania 7.6
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Social changes leading to increase

Percentage of births to unmarried women, selected countries, 1980 and 2007[5]

Today, cohabitation is a common pattern among people in the Western world.

In Europe, the Scandinavian countries have been the first to start this leading trend, although many countries have since followed.[6] Mediterranean Europe has traditionally been very conservative, with religion playing a strong role. Until the mid-1990s, cohabitation levels remained low in this region, but have since increased.[7]

During the past decades, in Western countries, there has been an increase in 'consensual unions' - that is unmarried couples cohabiting. According to the historic and traditional view of many Christian denominations (that has influenced much of the Western world) sexual relations before marriage are prohibited. As social mores have changed, such beliefs have become less widely held by the population and some Christian denominations today even view cohabitation as a precursor to marriage.[8][9] In recent decades women have gained significant rights, and the state and church control over women's body, sexuality and reproduction has weakened. Women also gained economic opportunities, so their dependence on men has become less strong. All these changes favored living arrangement alternatives to marriage. [10]

In Central and Eastern Europe, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were major political changes, such as the fall of Communist governments. These societies entered a new era of increased social freedom, less rigid rules, and less authoritarian governments. They interacted with Western Europe and some became members of the European Union. As a result, the patterns of family life have started to change: marriage rates have declined, and marriage was postponed to a later age. Cohabitation and births to unmarried mothers increased, and in some countries the increase was very quick.[11]

The deinstitutionalization of marriage refers to the weakening of the social and legal norms that regulate peoples' behavior in regard to marriage.[12] The rise in cohabitation is part of other major social changes such as: higher divorce rate, older age at first marriage and childbearing, and more births outside marriage. Factors such as secularization, increased participation of women in the labor force, changing in the meaning of marriage, risk reduction, individualism, and changing views on sexuality have been cited as contributing to these social changes.[13] There has also been a change in modern sexual ethics, with a focus on consent, rather than marital status (i.e. decriminalization of adultery and fornication; criminalization of marital rape), reflecting new concepts about the role and purpose of sexual interaction, and new conceptualizations of female sexuality and of self-determination.[14] There have been objections against the legal and social regulation of female sexuality; with such regulations being often seen as violations of women's rights.[15]

The fact that many couples choose to live together without formalizing their relation is also recognized by the European Union. The Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States addresses these people in Article 3 which makes reference to "the partner with whom the Union citizen has a durable relationship, duly attested" and states that "The host Member State shall undertake an extensive examination of the personal circumstances and shall justify any denial of entry or residence to these people." Article 2 addresses "the spouse" and "the partner with whom the Union citizen has contracted a registered partnership". [16]

Reasons for cohabitation in the United States

Today, cohabitation in the United States is often seen as a natural step in the dating process.[17] In fact, "cohabitation is increasingly becoming the first coresidential union formed among young adults." [18] More than two-thirds of married couples in the US say that they lived together before getting married.[19] "In 1994, there were 3.7 million cohabiting couples in the United States."[20] This is a major increase from a few decades ago. According to Dr. Galena Rhoades, "Before 1970, living together outside of marriage was uncommon, but by the late 1990s at least 50% to 60% of couples lived together premaritally.[21]

People may live together for a number of reasons. Cohabitants could live together in order to save money, because of the convenience of living with another, or a need to find housing.[17] Lower income individuals facing financial uncertainty may delay or avoid marriage, not only because of the difficulty of paying for a wedding[22] but also because of fear of financial hardship if a marriage were to end in divorce.[23]

When given a survey of the reasons why they cohabitate, most couples listed reasons such as spending more time together, convenience based reasons, and testing their relationships, while few gave the reason that they do not believe in marriage.[24] The extremely high costs of housing and tight budgets of today's economy are also factors that can lead a couple to cohabitation.[19]

Today sixty percent of all marriages are preceded by a period of cohabitation.[25] Researchers suggest that couples live together as a way of trying out marriage to test compatibility with their partners, while still having the option of ending the relationship without legal implications. "More than three-quarters of all cohabitators report plans to marry their partners, which implies that most of them view cohabitation as a prelude to marriage.[26] Cohabitation shares many qualities with marriage, often couples who are cohabitating share a residence, personal resources, exclude intimate relations with others and, in more than 10% of cohabitating couples, have children.[27] "Many young adults believe cohabitation is a good way to test their relationships prior to marriage.[28] Couples who have plans to marry before moving in together or who are engaged before cohabiting typically marry within two years of living together.[29] The state of cohabitation of a couple often ends either in marriage or in break-up; according to a 1996 study about 10% of cohabiting unions remained in this state more than five years. [30] According to a survey done by The National Center for Health Statistics, "over half of marriages from 1990-1994 among women began as cohabitation.[18]

Cohabitation can be an alternative to marriage in situations where marriage is not possible for financial or family reasons (such as same-sex, interracial or interreligious marriages).[29]

Cohabitation, sometimes called de facto marriage, is becoming more commonly known as a substitute for conventional marriage.[31] Common-law marriage in the United States can still be contracted in nine US states, and in two others under restriction.[32] 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. In today's cohabiting relationships, forty percent of households include children, giving us an idea of how cohabitation could be considered a new normative type of family dynamic.[25]

Contemporary objections to cohabitation before marriage

There has been a documented increase in the number of cohabiting couples in the last fifty years. In 1960, there were approximately 450,000 couples cohabiting in the United States; by 2011, the number had increased to 7.5 million.[33] Because of the dramatic increase in the number of cohabiting couples, there are fewer objections to this kind of relationship than there were in the 1960s. Contemporary objections to cohabiting couples center around three primary topics; religion, social pressure, and the effect of cohabitation on a child's development.

There has been an increase in the research performed on the relationship between cohabitation and its effect on child development.[34] People have opposed cohabitation because they believed that it led to an unstable environment for a child's development. Some studies have shown a decrease in math skills and an increase in delinquency among children of cohabiting couples.[35] However, when other environmental influences like poverty, low education of the parent, and violence in the home are controlled; children of cohabiting couples are developmentally similar to their peers of married couples.[36]

Religious views

Studies have found that religious affiliation correlates with cohabitation and marriage entry.[37] People frequently cite religious reasons for their opposition to cohabitation. The Roman Catholic Church and many mainstream Protestant denominations around the world oppose cohabitation and consider it to be the sin of fornication.[38][39][40] However, others, such as the Anglican Church "welcome cohabiting couples in the Church and encourage them to regard cohabitation as a prelude to Christian marriage."[41]

Pre-marital, extra-marital and same-sex relationships are all forbidden in Islam.[42]

Religion can also lead to societal pressures against cohabitation especially within highly religious communities.[43] Some couples may refrain from cohabitation because one or both partners fear disappointing or alienating conservative family members[37] Young adults that grew up in families that oppose cohabitation have lower rates than their peers.[44] The increase in cohabitation in the United States and other developed nations has been linked to the secularization of those countries.[45] Researchers have noted that changes in the religious demographics of a society have accompanied the rise in cohabitation.[46]

Effects on marriage and family life

Likelihood of split

Conflicting studies on the effect of cohabitation on subsequent marriage have been published. In countries where the majority of people disapprove of unmarried individuals living together, or a minority of the population cohabits before marriage, marriages resulting from cohabitation are more prone to divorce. But in a study on European countries, those where around half of the population cohabits before marriage, cohabitation is not selective of divorce-prone individuals, and no difference in couples that have cohabited before and after marriage is observed.[47][48] In countries such as Italy, the increased risk of marital disruption for people who experienced premarital cohabitation can be entirely attributed to the selection of the most divorce-prone into cohabitation.[49]

In 2002 the CDC found that for married couples the percentage of the relationship ending after 5 years is 20%, for unmarried cohabitators the percentage is 49%. After 10 years the percentage for the relationship to end is 33% for married couples and 62% for unmarried cohabitators. [50] [51]

A 2004 study of 136 couples (272 individuals) from researchers at the University of Denver found differences among couples that cohabited before engagement, after engagement, or not until marriage. The longitudinal study collected survey data collected before marriage and 10 months into marriage, with findings suggesting those who cohabit before engagement are at greater risk for poor marital outcomes than those who cohabit only after engagement or at marriage.[52] A follow-up survey by the researches of over 1,000 married men and women married in the past 10 years found those who moved in with a lover before engagement or marriage reported significantly lower quality marriages and a greater possibility of a separation than other couples. [53] About 20 percent of those who cohabited before getting engaged had since suggested splitting - compared with only 12 percent of those who only moved in together after getting engaged and 10 percent who did not cohabit prior to marriage.[54]

The researchers from Denver suggest that relationships with pre-engagement cohabitation "may wind up sliding into marriage",[54] whereas those that only cohabit post engagement or marriage make a more clear decision. This could explain their 2006 study of 197 heterosexual couples finding that men who cohabited with their spouse before engagement were less dedicated than men who cohabited only after engagement or not at all before marriage.[55] In some heterosexual couples, women are more likely to understand cohabitation as an intermediary step preceding marriage, and men more likely to perceive it without an explicit connection to marriage. [56][57] [58]

An analysis of data from the CDC's National Survey of Family Growth data from 1988, 1995, and 2002 suggests that the positive relationship between premarital cohabitation and marital instability has weakened for more recent birth and marriage cohorts, as the total number of couples cohabitating before marriage has increased.[59]

Later CDC work found that between 2002 and 2006-2010, the number of couples in opposite-sex cohabiting relationships increased from 9.0% to 11.2% for women, and from 9.2% to 12.2% for men.[60] Drawing on the 2006-2008 data, Princeton university researchers examined whether and to what extent variation in premarital cohabitation experiences influence marital stability. They found that the relationship between cohabitation and marital instability is complex and depends in part on marriage cohort, race/ethnicity, and marriage plans. Their analyses reveal that a 'cohabitation effect' exists only for women married prior to 1996, and that, until marriage plans are considered, there is no cohabitation effect among women married since 1996. [61]

Recent research from 2011 by the Pew Research Center has found that the number of couples that cohabit before marriage has increased. 44% of adults (and more than half of 30- to 49-year-olds) say they have cohabited at some point. Nearly two-thirds of adults who ever cohabited (64%) say they thought about it as a step toward marriage. The report also notes a trend toward rising public acceptance of cohabiting couples over the years. Most Americans now say the rise in unmarried couples living together either makes no difference to society (46%) or is good for society (9%). [62]

Effect on children

In 2001, research was done on the effects of living in a cohabiting household versus a single-parent household on teenagers. The results showed that White teenagers fare worse living in a cohabiting household than living in a single parent household. They tend to do worse in school, are more likely to get suspended or expelled, and have just as many behavioral and emotional problems as those living with a single-parent. The impact for Hispanic teens is just as dramatic and the impact for Black teens is less noticeable.[63]

More often than not, children most often experience cohabitation through their mother's form of a new relationship; whether of not the children are born to a single or married mother. A late 1990s study stated that children are expected to be a part of a cohabitating family by the age of twelve. Those children who were born from single mothers had a higher chance of cohabitating by the age of twelve compared to those children whose mothers were married by about 63%. For those children whose mothers were married, their expectancy to enter into a cohabitating household was about 15% by the age of twelve. Often in a cohabitating relationship, adults will produce children of their own. For those children being brought into this new household, around thirty-nine percent of babies will be born within the formation of a cohabitating relationship by the time these children are twelve. The expectancy of children being in a cohabitating family by the time they are twelve was 37% in 1990-1994 and grew to 46% in 1997-2001. with this rapid growing rate, it is expected that in the United States, half of the children will be living with a cohabitating mother, and most by or before the age of twelve.[64]

When children are born in a cohabitation situation, marriage is often one of the next steps. These children are 90% more likely to enter into a marriage as opposed to children that were born to single mothers. The likelihood that an unmarried single mother will get married has actually been proven to increase and vary depending on the mothers education level. Children of mothers who attended a four year college are 74% more likely to find that their mothers may wed as opposed to the high school drop out mothers, where their children only have a 40% expectancy for them to marry. There is also a difference in ethnicity for children in cohabiting households who expect the relationship to move towards a marriage. Hispanics are 67% likely to see their mothers getting married, whereas African American children only have a 40% expectancy. Overall, children who were born to younger mothers are more likely to see their mothers marry at some point as opposed to older mothers. Children who are born to younger mothers are also more likely to experience maternal cohabitation. It is thought that this is due to the limiting available market as you age, and often older women, ages 25 and up, were married at some point before their cohabitation. Either scenario children experience a disruption in family dynamic.[64]

Abuse and infidelity

University of Chicago sociologist Linda Waite [65] found that "16 percent of cohabiting women reported that arguments with their partners became physical during the past year, while only 5 percent of married women had similar experiences." Most cohabiting couples have a faithful relationship, but Waite's surveys also demonstrated that 20 percent of cohabiting women reported having secondary sex partners, compared to only 4 percent of married women. A 1992 study found that male members of heterosexual couples with children are less likely to be a part of the childcare but half the time they are responsible for child abuse.[66]

According to an article by Judith Treas and Deirdre Giesen, cohabiting couples are twice as likely to experience infidelity within the relationship than married couples.[67]

Financial effects

In the United States, married couples that submit a combined tax return may face a [68]

Despite the perceived disincentive to marry that the EITC provides, cohabiting couples suffer many financial losses as their unions are not recognized with the same legal and financial benefits as those who are legally married. These financial penalties can include the costs of separate insurance policies and the costs of setting up legal protections similar to those that are automatically granted by the state upon marriage.[69]

No effect

A conflicting study, published by the National Center for Health Statistics, with a sample of 12,571 people, concludes that "those who live together after making plans to marry or getting engaged have about the same chances of divorcing as couples who never cohabited before marriage."[70]

Additionally, William Doherty, a professor in the Department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota has remarked that in his research he has found that "committed cohabiting relationships seem to confer many of the benefits of marriage."[71]

A 2003 study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that "The differences in measured outcomes for those from direct and indirect marriages appear to be entirely attributable to other factors." [72] The study concluded that the evidence suggests that premarital cohabitation has "little impact one way or the other" on the chances of any subsequent marriage surviving.

Legal prohibitions

In some regions, people who cohabit may be breaking the laws of said jurisdictions. In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan,[73] Afghanistan,[74][75] Iran,[75] Kuwait,[76] Maldives,[77] Morocco,[78] Oman,[79] Mauritania,[80] United Arab Emirates,[81][82] Sudan,[83] Yemen,[84] sexual relations outside marriage are illegal.

By region

United States

Public approval in the United States for cohabiting couples has risen since 1994[85][86]
  Neither agree nor disagree

Cohabitation in the United States became common in the late 20th century. As of 2005, 4.85 million unmarried couples were living together, and as of 2002, about half of all women aged 15 to 44 had lived unmarried with a partner. In 2007, it is estimated that 6.4 million households were maintained by two opposite sex persons who said they were unmarried. [87] In 2012, the General Social Survey found that public disapproval of cohabitation had dropped to 20% of the population.[86]

Researchers at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research estimated in 2011 that 66% of first marriages are entered after a period of cohabitation.[88] According to the 2009 American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau, the proportion of 30-to-44-year-olds living together has almost doubled since 1999, from 4% to 7%. Fifty-eight percent of women aged 19 to 44 had ever cohabited in data collected in 2006-08, while in 1987 only 33% had. Cohabitation is more prevalent among those with less education. "Among women ages 19 to 44, 73% of those without a high school education have ever cohabited, compared with about half of women with some college (52%) or a college degree (47%)," note the Pew study's authors, Richard Fry and D'Vera Cohn.[89]

Before the mid-20th century, laws against cohabitation, fornication, adultery and other such behaviors were common in the US (especially in Southern and Northeastern states), but these laws have been gradually abolished or struck down by courts as unconstitutional.[90][91] [92]

  • "Cohabitation was almost impossible in the United States prior to the 1960s. Laws prevented unmarried couples from registering in hotels and it was very difficult for an unmarried couple to obtain a home mortgage. From 1960 to 1998, cohabitation moved from disreputable and difficult to normal and convenient." PBS: Social disruptions

As of 2013, cohabitation of unmarried couples remains illegal in four states (Mississippi, Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina), while fornication remains illegal in six states (Idaho,[93] Utah,[94] South Carolina,[95] Minnesota,[96] Massachusetts,[97] Illinois[98]). These laws are almost never enforced and are now believed to be unconstitutional since the legal decision Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.[99] However, these laws may have indirect effects. For example, one consequence may be that one may not claim their boyfriend/girlfriend as a dependent (for a tax exemption), whereas in the other states it may be possible to do so after meeting 4 criteria: residency, income, support and status.[100]

In 2006, in North Carolina, Pender County Superior Court judge Benjamin G. Alford ruled that North Carolina's cohabitation law is unconstitutional.[101] However, the Supreme Court of North Carolina has never had the opportunity to rule on it, so the law's statewide constitutionality remains unclear.

On December 13, 2013, US Federal Judge Clark Waddoups ruled in Brown v. Buhman that the portions of Utah's anti-polygamy laws which prohibit multiple cohabitation were unconstitutional, but also allowed Utah to maintain its ban on multiple marriage licenses.[102][103][104] Unlawful cohabitation, where prosecutors did not need to prove that a marriage ceremony had taken place (only that a couple had lived together), had been a major tool used to prosecute polygamy in Utah since the 1882 Edmunds Act.[105]

Latin America

  • Cohabitation in Latin America is very common, especially for young people. This region has the highest rates of non-marital childbearing in the world (55–74% of all children in this region are born to unmarried parents).[106] In Mexico, 18.7% of all couples were cohabiting as of 2005. Among young people, the figures are much higher.[107]


  • In Nepal, living together is socially acceptable only after marriage.[108] However, cohabitation is an emerging trend in urban areas of Nepal. Reports have shown that there may be significant number of unmarried couples cohabiting in cities, especially in the capital, Kathmandu. Even when the unmarried couples cohabit they either prefer to remain anonymous or pose themselves as married couple.[109] Cohabitation is not recognized by the law of Nepal and there is no special provision to secure the right of cohabitants in Nepalese law.
  • In Bangladesh cohabitation after divorce is frequently punished by the salishi system of informal courts, especially in rural areas.[110]
  • Cohabitation in India had been taboo since British rule. However, this is no longer true in large cities, but is not often found in rural areas which are more conservative. Live-in relationships are legal in India. Recent Indian court rulings have ascribed some rights to long-term cohabiting partners. Female live-in partners have economic rights under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 subject to following conditions as laid by Honourable Supreme Court of India in case of D. Velusamy v D. Patchaiammal:

(a) The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses. (b) They must be of legal age to marry. (c) They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried. (d) They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time.

  • In Indonesia, an Islamic penal code proposed in 2005 would have made cohabitation punishable by up to two years in prison.[111] The practice is still frowned upon, and many hotels and boarding houses have been raided by police for allowed unmarried couples to share a room.
  • 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. A more recent Iwasawa study has shown that there has been a recent emergence of non-marital cohabitation. Couples born in the 1950s cohort showed an incidence of cohabitation of 11.8%, where the 1960s and 1970s cohorts showed cohabitation rates of 30%, and 53.9% respectively. The split between urban and rural residence for people who had cohabited is indicates 68.8% were urban and 31.2% were rural.[112]
  • In the Philippines, around 2.4 million Filipinos were cohabiting as of 2004. The 2000 census placed the percentage of cohabiting couples at 19%. The majority of individuals are between the ages of 20-24. Poverty was often the main factor in decision to cohabit.[113]


  • In the European Union, cohabitation is very common. In 2011, 39.5% of all births in the EU 27 countries were extramarital. The percentage of births outside marriage has increased dramatically in many European countries during the last few decades, as can be seen in the figure. The majority of births occur outside of marriage (figures as of 2012,[114] except where otherwise stipulated) in the following European countries: Iceland (66.9%), Estonia (58.4%), Slovenia (58% - in 2013[115]), Bulgaria (57.4%), France (57.1% in 2013[116]), Norway (54.9%), Sweden (54.5%), Belgium (52.3%), and Denmark (50.6%).
  • While couples of all ages cohabit, the phenomenon is much more common among younger people. In late 2005, 21% of families in Finland consisted of cohabitating couples (all age groups). Of couples with children, 18% were cohabitating.[117] Of ages 18 and above in 2003, 13.4% were cohabitating.[118] Generally, cohabitation amongst Finns is most common for people under 30. Legal obstacles for cohabitation were removed in 1926 in a reform of the Criminal Code, while the phenomenon was socially accepted much later on. In France, 17.5% of couples were cohabiting as of 1999.[107]


In Britain today, nearly half of babies are born to people who are not married (in the United Kingdom 47.3% in 2011;[119] in Scotland in 2012 the proportion was 51.3%[120]). It is estimated that by 2016, the majority of births in the UK will be to unmarried parents. [121]The Victorian era of the late 19th century is famous for the Victorian standards of personal morality. Historians generally agree that the middle classes held high personal moral standards and rejected cohabitation. They have debated whether the working classes followed suit. Moralists in the late 19th century such as Henry Mayhew decried high levels of cohabitation without marriage and illegitimate births in London slums. However new research using computerized matching of data files shows that the rates of cohabitation were quite low—under 5% -- for the working class and the urban poor.[122]


In Bulgaria, there has been a rapid increase in cohabitation after the fall of communism. The transition from communism to market economy had a great impact on the demographic behavior of the population. After the fall of communism, the legal and social pressure to get married has declined, and the population has started to experience new life styles.[123] As of 2012, 57.4% of children were born to unmarried mothers.[124]


The literature on second demographic transition argues as well that highly educated women are more prone to engage in cohabitation, although the reasons are different: they are less concerned with respecting the societal norms.[125] Some scholars argued that cohabitation is very similar to being single in the sense of not giving up independence and personal autonomy.[126]

In Hungary, cohabitation was an uncommon phenomenon until the late 1980s and it was largely confined to the divorced or widowed individuals.[127] Among the ethnic groups, Gypsy/Rroma tended to have higher rates of cohabitation, mainly due to their reluctance to register their marriages officially.[128] Since the 1980s, cohabitation became much more frequent among all ethnic groups and it has been argued to have strongly influenced the decline in fertility.[129]


Cohabitation in Ireland has increased in recent years, and 35.1% of births were to unmarried women in 2012.[130] Until a few decades ago, women who had children outside of marriage were severely stigmatized and often detained in Magdalene laundries. The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 gives some rights to unmarried cohabitants (under this act same-sex couples can enter into civil partnerships, while long term unmarried couples - both heterosexual and same sex - who have not registered their relation have some limited rights and obligations).


In Poland, after the fall of communism, the influence of religion has increased. Indeed, Poland has one of the most religious population in Europe (see Religion in Europe). Cohabitation in Poland has traditionally been associated with the lower social classes, but in recent years an increase in cohabitation has also been seen among the more educated. Family structure in Poland remains still traditional: marriages are still contracted at relatively young ages, and the incidence of divorce is relatively low (by European standards). The exact incidence of cohabitation is not well established, but it is quite low compared to other Western countries. However, Poland is not completely 'immune' to Western influence, and in 2012, 22.3% of children were born outside of marriage.[131][132]


Slovakia is more conservative and religious than neighboring Czech Republic. The principal form of partnership is marriage, but extramarital childbearing and cohabitation are slowly spreading, yet this trend is not without criticism; and some view these phenomena as a threat to traditional values.[133][134] In 2012, 35.4% of births were to unmarried women.[135] Fertility in Slovakia has been described in a 2008 study as "between tradition and modernity".[136]

Middle East

  • The cohabitation rate in Asian countries is much lower than in Europe or Latin America. In some parts of the continent it is however becoming more common for young people. As of 1994, the rate of premarital cohabitation in Israel was 25%.[137]
  • Cohabitation is illegal according to sharia law (for the countries that enforce it).[138][139] It is also illegal in the Jewish Halacha, however, there is no country abiding by the Jewish Halacha (not even Israel).

Aside from the law, cohabiting remains very much taboo across the region. Nevertheless, the issue of cohabitation of unmarried couples has featured in some Tunisian movies, such as Les Silences du Palais (1994)


  • In Australia, 22% of couples were cohabiting as of 2005. 78% of couples who marry have lived together beforehand in 2008,[140] rising from 16% in 1975.[141]
  • In New Zealand, 18.3% of couples were cohabiting as of 2001.[107]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States". CDC/National Center for Health Statistics. May 13, 2009. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Taylor, Ina (2005). Religion and Life with Christianity.  
  9. ^ "Divorce, remarriage and cohabitation".  
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Friedman, Jaclyn;  
  15. ^ High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called for full respect and recognition of women's autonomy and sexual and reproductive health rights, stating: "Violations of women's human rights are often linked to their sexuality and reproductive role. Women are frequently treated as property, they are sold into marriage, into trafficking, into sexual slavery. (...) In many countries, married women may not refuse to have sexual relations with their husbands, and often have no say in whether they use contraception. (...) Ensuring that women have full autonomy over their bodies is the first crucial step towards achieving substantive equality between women and men. Personal issues - such as when, how and with whom they choose to have sex, and when, how and with whom they choose to have children - are at the heart of living a life in dignity."[1]
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b Kramer, Elise (September–October 2004). "Cohabitation: Just a Phase?". Psychology Today 37: 28. 
  18. ^ a b Goodwin, P.Y., Mosher, W.D., & Chandra, A. (2010). "Marriage and cohabitation in the United States: A statistical portrait based on Cycle 6 (2002) of the National Survey of Family Growth (National Center for Health Statistics)". Vital Health Statistics, 23, 1-55.
  19. ^ a b "Cohabitation is replacing dating". USA Today,. 2005-07-18. 
  20. ^ Brown, S.L., & Booth, maya angelo 2014 (1996). "Cohabitation versus marriage: A comparison of relationship quality.". Journal of Marriage and Family 58 (3): 668–678. 
  21. ^ Rhoades, G.K., Stanley, S.M., & Markman, H.J. (2012). A longitudinal investigation of commitment dynamics in cohabitating relationships.Journal of Family Issues, 33(3), 369-390.
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