New study: unmarried parents four times more likely to split up than married couples

Dina sent me this article from the UK Daily Mail.


Unmarried parents are four times more likely to split up than those who have wed, research revealed yesterday.

It also indicated that co-habiting couples with children under 16 are now responsible for the majority of  family breakdowns.

On average, 5.3 per cent of these relationships ended each year from 2009-12, according to the study.

But among those who had taken their vows, the average rate was only 1.3 per cent, said the Marriage Foundation think-tank and university academics.

The high rate of co-habiting parents in family splits comes despite these couples making up only a fifth of those with children.

The figures were gathered from the findings of a £50 million state-sponsored research project, the Understanding Society survey.

Over the last 20 years, it has gathered information on the progress of families and now tracks events in 40,000 homes.

I have a friend who moved in with a non-Christian guy before she became a Christian and they broke up. She told me all about it. When I was listening to her, the thought occurred to me that women and men think that co-habitation is leading to different places. And it turns out that there is some evidence to support this intuition.

Consider  this fascinating article from the Atlantic, authored by marriage researcher W. Bradford Wilcox. The article discusses the variances between cohabitating men and women regarding goals and expectations.


According to a new paper from RAND by sociologists Michael Pollard and Kathleen Mullan Harris, cohabiting young adults have significantly lower levels of commitment than their married peers. This aversion to commitment is particularly prevalent among young men who live with their partners.

Pollard and Harris found that the majority of cohabiting young men do not endorse the maximum indicator of relationship permanence: 52 percent of cohabiting men between ages 18 and 26 are not “almost certain” that their relationship is permanent. Moreover, a large minority (41 percent) of men report that they are not “completely committed” to their live-in girlfriends. By contrast, only 39 percent of cohabiting women in the same age group are not “almost certain” their relationship will go the distance, and only 26 percent say they are not “completely committed”. Not surprisingly, the figures above and below also indicate that married women and men are much less likely to exhibit the low levels of commitment characteristic of many cohabiting relationships today.

Women are thinking that it is going to lead to some deeper commitment from the man, but men are thinking that they are getting what they want already (sex) and that they want to avoid the higher risks of making a more formal commitment.

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