NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Government Study Finds Wedded Bliss

July 25, 2002

According to a study from the National Center for Health Statistics, marriage is a bed of roses, compared to simply cohabiting.

Married people are likely to live longer, engage in less risky behavior, be more health conscious, and have more satisfying sexual lives, higher wages and larger savings than unmarried people, according to the study.

Here are some of the findings:

  • Women who live with their boyfriends have an almost 50-50 chance their relationship will break up in five years -- whereas among married couples the breakup risk is 20 percent over the same period.
  • Just 7 percent of women ages 15 to 44 were living with a boyfriend in 1995 -- but more than 41 percent of women said they had cohabited at least once.
  • Some 70 percent of cohabiting couples who were together for five years got married.
  • Marriages were more likely to flourish if the wife came from a two-parent home, was Asian, was at least 20 years old at marriage, did not have children, was college educated, had a good income or was affiliated with a religion.

The report also finds that those who cohabitate before marriage face a greater chance of divorce. After 10 years, 40 percent of couples that had lived together before marriage had broken up. That compares with 31 percent of those who did not live together first.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Lovers Find Marriage Keeps Romance Alive," Washington Times, July 25, 2002; based on "Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the United States, Vital and Health Statistics, Series 23, Number 22, July 2002, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.

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