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More couples cohabitate

October 27, 2010
By Ashley Hoholik

ESCANABA - Blame it on love or the economy - more unmarried couples are moving in together, and at a significant pace.

In a recent report from the Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, it was recorded the number of opposite-sex cohabiting couples jumped 13 percent from 2009 to 2010. In 2009, there were an estimated 6.7 million unmarried couples living together, while 2010 showed that number increased to 7.5 million.

According to the report, shifts in family composition usually occur at a more tempered pace, leading the division to deduce that certain factors prompted the change - more specifically, the economy.

"Couples move in together for a variety of reasons. Economic factors are often key," the report's author, Rose M. Kreider wrote.

"The move may be precipitated by the loss of employment by one of the partners. Or the lease may be up on the apartment for the other partner," she continued.

"The relatively more precarious economic situation of these couples may have contributed to their decision to move in together," Kreider continued.

Fact Box

At a glance

In a recent report from the Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, it was recorded the number of opposite-sex cohabiting couples jumped 13 percent from 2009 to 2010.

The report also points out that while the recession actually began in 2007, it may have taken this long for the continued strain of the economy to fully impact couples.

Bay College Sociology Instructor Michael Young agreed the trend has some economical factors, however, he said the most recent hike can likely be attributed to the sociological effects of the "Great Recession."

"The 13 percent spike in cohabitation is not surprising considering the timing of the data," he explained. "2009 to 2010 was/is the peak of our recent 'Great Recession' and people are now saving money, going back to school, and postponing expensive events like vacations, honeymoons, marriage ceremonies and having children as they seek stability."

According to Young, the rate of cohabitation has been steadily increasing since the late 60s and 70s, with half of today's married couples having lived together before marriage. Even with the steady increase, Young explained that cohabitation spikes appear to occur more during times of national "turbulence" - specifically the Great Depression and both World Wars.

"It isn't really about personal finances being a good reason to cohabitate, but rather couples are finding they must cohabitate in times like these," he said. "It makes sense for them to cohabitate now, rather than making (a) major life change in uncertain economic times."

Various shifts in societal configuration are also responsible for the simultaneous increase in cohabitation and postponement, added Young, and some important shifts have occurred over the past 30 to 40 years.

According to Young, noteworthy shifts include: the nationwide move from manufacturing (male-dominated) to service (female-dominated) sectors, the shift of gender roles and shift to dual-income families.

These shifts, predominately geared toward females, will not only perpetuate the current social trends, they will also leave men in a unique situation, explains Young.

"What's...important is how men are going to handle these changes because they are only going to get worse for them..at least that is the prediction" he said. "Ironically, the research was always focused on how women dealt with the confines of work, home and family life. Now that focus will be on men."

"Think about it in these terms: women now make up 51 percent of the workforce in the U.S. This is the first time ever that women have outnumbered men in this capacity," he continued. "With women being career-focused, college-focused, driven, and determined as 'providers' in their family, is it any wonder that the trends mentioned above (postponement of everything) and the 13-percent spike are happening?"

 
 

 

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