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Cohabition plateaus as weak economy pulls couples apart

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor
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Cohabitation was on the rise for decades, until the Great Recession drove young lovers to live with their parents instead of each other.

Census data shows that the number of couples living together became stagnant between 2000 and 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Zhenchao Qian, a sociologist at Ohio State University, told the WSJ that the economic hardships brought on by the recession are what drove couples to live separately.

Qian’s studies found that the economic downturn led many Millennials, especially the unemployed, to move in with their parents instead of choosing the more expensive option of living with a significant other. A lack of job opportunities and a shrinking bank account can also take a heavy emotional toll on people, which can affect the stability of romantic relationships and make it difficult for couples to live with one another for an extended period of time.

The less-educated and minorities have been hardest hit.

“This is a finding that we did not witness in the past. It is possible that these individuals might not even [be able to] afford cohabitation, or only have unstable cohabiting relationships due to poor unemployment opportunities and economic resources,” Qian said. He reasoned that this population was also more likely to have short lived-relationships, making their cohabitation difficult to capture in the census.

In the 1990s, approximately 60 percent of couples who got married cohabited first. Along with affecting cohabitation rates, studies show that financial troubles are the leading cause of divorce. Nearly 70 percent of divorced individuals say that issues revolving around money contributed to the failure of their marriage.

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