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More U.S. Couples Living Together Vs. Marrying

And more women getting pregnant while cohabiting
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Less educated women were also more likely to become pregnant while they were living with their partner.

The rate of cohabitation increased in all racial and ethnic groups except for Asian women.

Here are some highlights of the report:

  • For the period between 2006 and 2010, 23 percent of recent births happened while the couple was living together, up from 14 percent in 2002.
  • The length of time couples lived together averaged 22 months in 2006 to 2010, compared with 13 months in 1995.
  • About 40 percent of people living together got married within the first three years, while 32 percent continued to live together and 27 percent broke up.
  • More white women (44 percent) and foreign-born Hispanic women (42 percent) married their partners within the first three years of living together compared with only 31 percent each for black women and Hispanic women born in the United States.
  • Women who had not finished high school were more likely to live with someone (70 percent) than women who had finished college or beyond (47 percent).
  • Women with more education were more likely to marry than those with less education, 53 percent within three years versus 30 percent.

It's not clear what effect these trends may have on the health of families, women and children. Previous research has shown that people who are living together -- married or not -- tend to be healthier both physically and mentally, Copen said.

Children tend to be happier and healthier the more stable their parents' union is, regardless of whether the "union" has been formalized or not, she added.

This study did not look at how long couples stayed together beyond three years.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has tips for a healthy relationship.

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