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Marriage still the ideal for many couples currently living together

Despite rising levels of cohabitation in Britain, marriage still remains the ideal for many couples, finds new research by Dr Ernestina Coast|, lecturer in Population Studies in the Social Policy Department| at LSE.

The study, Honourable Intentions? Attitudes and Intentions among Currently Cohabiting Couples in Britain was presented at the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) conference on Thursday 5 July.

Dr Coast analysed BHPS data on the marriage expectations and reasons for cohabiting from people aged under 35 who have never been married and are currently in cohabiting relationships. Her findings included:

  • Two thirds of men and women report that there is no positive advantage in living as a couple rather than being married
  • Childless men and women are significantly more likely to report that there are advantages in living together as a couple rather than being married
  • When questioned about the reasons for viewing cohabitation as being advantageous compared with marriage, mothers are significantly more likely to report financial advantages compared with fathers
  • Childless women are significantly more likely to see cohabitation as a 'trial marriage' compared with cohabiting women who are already mothers
  • When questioned about their future intentions, three quarters of men and women reported that they were planning to, or probably would, get married.

Across Europe, the proportion of never married individuals who are in cohabiting relationships is rising. According to the Government Actuary's Department, by 2031 more than 30 per cent of never married people aged 18-59 are projected to be in cohabiting relationships in Britain.

Ends

For further information: contact Ernestina Coast on 020 7955 6335 email: e.coast@lse.ac.uk| or Romesh Vaitilingam on 077 6866 1095 email: romesh@compuserve.com|

Notes for editors

Honourable Intentions? Attitudes and Intentions among Currently Cohabiting Couples in Britain by Dr Ernestina Coast was presented at the British Household Panel Survey 2007 conference at the Institute for Social and Economic Research| (ISER), Essex.

Dr Ernestina Coast is a Lecturer in Population Studies at the London School of Economics.

The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of its Understanding Population Trends and Processes programme.

ISER has been conducting the BHPS since 1991, collecting and analysing data on a representative sample of 5,500 households comprising more than 10,000 individuals, who are interviewed every year; and making this data - the most heavily used non-commercial social science data set in the UK - accessible to academics, policy-makers, businesses and the public sector. The BHPS is funded by ESRC.

6 July 2007

Press cuttings

Evening Standard (6 July)
Marriage is back in fashion with three out of four saying they'll do it - one day
Marriage is still the great aspiration of most live-in couples, a survey shows. Researcher Dr Ernestina Coast, of the London School of Economics, examined the views of cohabiting couples under the age of 35 as given in the British Household Panel Survey, a database which has traced the lives of more than 10,000 people since the early 1990s.
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23403147-details/Marriage+is+|
back+in+fashion+with+three+out+of+four+saying+they%27ll+do+it+-+one|
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