Yet another research study shows marriage is superior to cohabitation for providing family stability.
The study, “The Cohabitation-Go-Around: Cohabitation and Family Instability Across the Globe,” published by the Social Trends Institute and the Institute for Family Studies, found marriage provided significantly more stability for children than cohabiting, regardless of education level or geography.
Cohabiting parents split up twice as often as married parents, according to the data. And children who experienced their parents’ breakups and then additional family transitions also reported more unhappiness, school disruptions, and teen pregnancies.
Bradford Wilcox and Laurie DeRose, the study’s authors, wrote: “Our results suggest that there is something about marriage per se that bolsters stability.” They suggested it could come from the wedding, the societal norms of “commitment, fidelity, and permanence” tied to marriage, the distinct treatment by family and friends of a married couple, or, likely, all three.
The study found the “stability premium” held among highly educated families, a population some experts said best maintains stable cohabitation. Nearly half of cohabiting, college-educated mothers broke up with their partners before their child turned 12, compared to less than one-fifth of college-educated, married mothers.
Their research found similar results around the globe. Even in Europe, where most people view cohabitation and marriage as functional equivalents, the study found a marked difference, with children born to cohabiting couples 90 percent more likely to see their parents’ relationship end by the time they turned 12 than children born to married couples.