U.S. cohabitation rate eclipses divorce

Aug. 21, 2011 at 5:48 PM
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Cohabiting U.S. households with children are linked to increased instability in children's lives and negative outcomes for children, researchers say.

W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist in University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, says the study is co-authored by 18 family scholars from leading institutions.

"The divorce rate for married couples with children has returned almost to the levels we saw before the divorce revolution kicked in during the 1970s. Nevertheless, family instability is on the rise," Wilcox says in a statement.

"This report also indicates that children in cohabiting households are more likely to suffer from a range of emotional and social problems -- drug use, depression and dropping out of high school -- compared to children in intact, married families."

The study shows that 66 percent of 16-year-olds were living with both parents in the early 1980s, compared to just 55 percent of 16-year-olds in the early 2000s.

In addition, 24 percent of children born to married parents will see their own parents divorce or separate by age 12, while 42 percent of will experience a parental cohabitation by age 12, the study says.

The report surveys more than 250 peer-reviewed journal articles on marriage and family life in the United States and around the world, and also contains original analysis of data from the General Social Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation.

The report is published by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Institute for American Values.

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