Barna Study: Majority of Americans Think Cohabitation is Good Idea, Opinion Divided Among Religious and Non-Religious Groups


A new research by the Barna Group studied Americans' perceptions on cohabitation, and its acceptance within different groups.

The survey was conducted on 1,097 individuals via online survey between April 7 and 14.

A high majority of adults (65 percent) say that it is acceptable to live with your future spouse.

There is a sharp divide about the idea among the religious and non-religious segments. Only about 41 percent practicing Christians think that cohabitation is a good choice, while about 88 percent non-religious people perceive it as a suitable option.

A similar contrast was seen among the liberals and conservatives. Liberals (86 percent) preferred cohabitation more than conservatives (37 percent).

Millennials (72 percent) are more likely than elders (36 percent) to consider cohabitation favorably, as a consequence of being raised in a secular culture where gender roles have shifted and marriages are delayed.

About 69 percent of Gen-Xers, and 63 percent of elders thought that co-habitation was a good idea.

Most of those couples (84 percent) who choose to cohabitate do so to "test the waters" and to try-out compatibility. Only 9 percent said it was practical, and another 5 percent mentioned cheap rent as the reason for living together.

Living together did not increase or decrease the pressure of marriage for 62 percent of the respondents, and the proportion of those who said that cohabitation decreases marriage pressure (19 percent) was almost the same as those who said it increased (18 percent) it.

More than four in 10 (44%) of adults would be OK with their child cohabiting before marriage, and similarly, 40 percent would not be OK. Interestingly however, when it comes to the strongest views, respondents were more likely to say "no, definitely not" (24%) than "yes, absolutely" (16%).

"America is well beyond the tipping point when it comes to cohabitation," says Roxanne Stone, editor in chief at Barna Group. "Living together before marriage is no longer an exception, but instead has become an accepted and expected milestone of adulthood. Even a growing number of parents-nearly half of Gen-Xers and Boomers, and more than half of Millennials-want and expect their children to live with a significant other before getting married."