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NSFG Study: Marriage Postponed as Young Couples Choose to Cohabitate

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Adults in the US are increasingly postponing marriage and choosing to cohabitate with their partners first.  Although many indicate that they will one day marry, cohabitating has become in many instances, a couples first coresidential union. There have been broad assumptions that the recent economic collapse could have caused the postponement of marriage, but there has been no concrete evidence to prove so and the trend seems to have activated organically.

The data has been documented by The 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) which is jointly planned and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), the National Center for Health Statistics  (NCHS) and myriad other programs of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The analysis is based on a national sample of 12,279 women and 10,403 men aged 15-44 in the household population of the US. The conclusion was drawn after the data was compared from previous NSFG studies that were conducted in 1982, 1995 and 2002.

The most recent study found that the percentage of women currently cohabitating (living with a man in a sexual relationship)  rose from 3.0% in 1982 to 11% in 2006-2010. The rate was higher among respondents with less education. In 2006-2010 women and men married for the first time at older ages than they had in previous years; the median age at first marriage was 25.8 for women and 28.3 for men. The study noted that premarital cohabitation added to the postponement of marriage although it should be noted that when cohabitation is taken into account, the first union of couples living together is happening at more or less the same time that it has in the past.

The shifting trend will have far-reaching effects on many industries. Upon marriage is when the majority of people purchase life insurance, disability insurance and many other financial products such as annuities. It would be behoove the financial services industry as a whole to note the changes and incorporate them into marketing strategies and product design.