While cohabitation is commonplace among younger adults, the impact of parental divorce is significant on millenials and hence the level of commitment to the long-term health and stability of their relationships… and studies reveal that stability of relationships and in childbearing and family formation have changed in striking ways over past decade (Weston, R. and Qu, L. 2013).

In Australia, while the proportion of all divorces that involve children has declined since the early 1970s – from 68% in 1971 to 61% in 1980, 56% in 1990, 53% in 2000, and 48% in 2012, the trends do not capture the extent to which cohabiting relationships break down. In any case, over the last decade, at least 47,000 to 55,000 children under 18 years will have experienced the divorce of their parents each year.

Every year in the UK, 215,000 children will see their parents split up. Of the 47% of children born today outside of marriage, only 11% will reach 16 with their families intact. 83% of babies live with both parents, of whom 65% are married. By the time children are 15 only 53% live with both parents, of whom 93% are married.

According to PEW Research, around 30% say that having a successful marriage is one of their most important life goals and 52% say that being a good parent is one of the most important things for them. However, analysis of data from “Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC)”, indicates that children living with cohabiting parents are more likely than those living with married parents to experience parental separation.

Whilst millenials are tolerant to non-traditional behaviours related to marriage and parenting, they tend to hold less moral stigma to living together with a boyfriend/girlfriend, and are more approving of having children out-of-wedlock.

If cohabitation is less likely to deliver such family stability to children, compared to marriage, then marriage must be enciyraged. As the American expert on family and marriage Professor Brad Wilcox said: “We know that children thrive on stable routines with stable caregivers.”


  • pewresearch.org/millennials: As Marriage and Parenthood Drift Apart, Public Is Concerned about Social Impact | Pew Research Center
  • Millennials at work: Reshaping the Workplace, PwC, www.pwc.com/gx/en/issues/talent/future-of-work/millennials-survey
  • Weston, R. and Qu, L. 2013.
  • Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC)

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