9 Things You Should Know About Cohabitation in America

"Almost all of the increase in non-marital births in the United States since 1980 has taken place in the context of cohabiting unions. Most adults ages 18 to 44 who are presently cohabitating are also living with children." - TGC

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Bert Perry's picture

One thing to note here is that a lot of cohabitation is driven by our peculiar version of family law.  You have the tax code/marriage penalties, provisions in welfare laws, and the 50/50  split of assets with child support and sometimes alimony.  It's not for no reason that the late Robin Williams commented that instead of marrying again, he was just going to find someone he didn't like and give her half his money.

I don't regret getting married, but for those on the fringes of the decision, these risks and financial incentives make a big difference.  And as Joe Carter's column notes, it's getting people killed out there.

Another big part of the matter is that an increasing number of young men have--in part due to previous unwed parenting--become close to unmarriageable.  Part of it is to do with manufacturing and skilled trades taking huge hits in # of jobs, pay, and the like, and another part of it is that the "life skills" previously learned from fathers, from how to throw a football to how to shine a pair of shoes, or.....how to treat a lady so she'll "leave and cleave"....are not being taught anymore. 

(not helpful, either, when young ladies don't learn similar life skills, or for that matter when both young ladies and gentlemen have a lot of "experience" and thus have trouble valuing "what they have at home")

And then, not surprisingly, men (women) who've never learned the basics of adult life never take on the responsibilities of adult life.  

 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Bert, I am around 20 year olds all day long... family law has nothing to do with it. It's about sex. And not marrying, but getting sex. Period.

Bert Perry's picture

18 year olds used to get married quite often in the 1950s and 1960s.  No?  Certainly cohabitation is about sex, and certainly some degree of fornication has been going on in colleges for decades, but at the same time, the predecesssors of today's students you deal with were indeed "putting a ring on it" when the societal incentives to do so were greater.  

If it were just about sex, moreover, we would expect those involved to just get Norplant or other long term effective contraception and....just have sex without the consequence of babies.  But that's not what's going on; people are rather having babies out of wedlock, signing up for the next 18-20 years for raising that child without the benefits of marriage.  There is a reason that these parents (not just "fornicators") are choosing to raise their babies out of wedlock.  Maybe we ought to try to understand why. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.