Is Cohabitation Stable?

Traditional views of marriage have been declining worldwide for decades. This means more children are born outside of marriage or to cohabitating couples. This social change raises two important questions:

1. Are such children less likely to enjoy stable family lives?

2. Is the growth of non-marital childrearing, including the growth of childbearing within a cohabiting union, associated with more family instability for children at the national level?

A recent essay released by Social Trends Institute, The Cohabitation-Go-Round: Cohabitation and Family Instability Across the Globe, sought to answer these two questions. It was reported that children born to cohabiting, and especially single, parents experience higher levels of family instability in the first 12 years of their lives. Using data from 68 countries, it was discovered that the growth of cohabitation is associated with decreased family stability in countries around the world.

In other words, marriage seems to be associated with more family stability for children across much of the globe, whereas cohabitation is typically associated with less stability.