Today, a greater percentage of nonmarital births are to a cohabiting couples ​and with marriage exerting less influence over how adults organise their lives and bear children, cohabitation is filling some of the vacuum, according to Pew Research.

Millennials (also known as Generation Y, Generation Me and Echo Boomers) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials have a different set of moral values from their elders about sex, marriage and parenthood and even though a decreasing percentage of the adult population is married, and most millennials say they want to marry, cohabitation has become commonplace among younger adults.

Millenials reject the notion that their cohabitation was (or is) a trial marriage

While there is a common refrain in public discourse that living together is a testing ground for and stepping stone to marriage, those who have ever lived with a partner reject the notion that their cohabitation was (or is) a trial marriage by about a 2 to 1 margin. Those currently living with a partner and those who have done so in the past hold about the same views on this point.

Notions of testing the waters play a role in some people’s decisions about living together, however when asked in an open-ended question why respondents chose to live together rather than get married, the most common responses reflect uncertainty about the durability of the relationship (21% of responses) or concerns about the timing of marriage (15% of responses). For others, living together is explicitly intended as a precursor to marriage (8%). Other responses reflect the more practical side of decision-making – with 12% mentioning convenience, ease or a simple desire to live together; and 10% of responses reflecting financial considerations. Another 10% of responses raise specific concerns about marriage (9%), per se, or issues related to dissolving marriages (1%).

With the combination of these factors, an increase in cohabitating couples, and their tolerance to non-traditional behaviours related to marriage and parenting, they are pushing marriage to the back burner while.

Millenials are placing marriage and parenthood far above career and financial success but are increasingly delaying or forgoing marriage but having children.


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