The Freakonomics blog pointed out a recent Pew study today that catalogues some shifting living patterns in the United States. Heterosexual young adults--30 to 44 year olds, not twentysomething fake-adults who mooch off their parents and are the subject of New York Times trend pieces--are twice as likely to live with an unmarried partner today than they were in the mid-1990s. Overall, 7 percent of the age population reports cohabiting, while 58 percent are married and the rest are single.
The reason behind the shift is straightforward, according to the Freakonomics folks: people today feel much less pressure to marry. Perhaps the most interesting finding of the study, though, is the disparate economic effects of cohabitation on those with and without college degrees:
The typical college-educated cohabiter is at least as well off as a comparably educated married adult and better off than an adult without an opposite-sex partner. By contrast, a cohabiter without a college degree typically is worse off than a comparably educated married adult and no better off economically than an adult without an opposite-sex partner.
So be careful about shacking up if you didn't go to college? Hard to say what the causation relationship is there.
In any case: hurray for cohabitation! Down with outdated sexual norms! Or: boo cohabitation! Our society is decadent and immoral! We'll let you pick your reaction.