Attitudes on marriage and new relationships: Cross-national evidence on the deinstitutionalization of marriage
As an introduction to the historical trends in cohabitation over the last quarter century, the article assesses the available evidence on changing attitudes--relating them to the changing patterns in the proportions cohabiting and premaritally cohabiting. Using data primarily from the General Household Survey (GHS) the article then traces the growth in cohabitation, and pre-marital cohabitation, and examines the differentials in cohabitation by age, marital status and sex. The proportions of women who cohabited pre-maritally before their first and second marriages are found to have grown substantially since the late 1960s, to around 75 per cent and 85 per cent, respectively for marriages in the mid-1990s. Amongst those cohabiting at the time of interview, the length of time cohabiting has increased over the last 15 years, especially for single men and women. The duration of time women have been pre-maritally cohabiting before their first marriage has also increased over the same period--and their ages at the start of pre-marital cohabitation have become consistently older since the mid-1960s. The possible future growth in the proportions and numbers cohabiting is also considered--and some of the implications discussed.