Do reasons for living apart affect intentions to live together? A comparison by age and gender

Alisa C. Lewin, University of Haifa

Rates of marriage and remarriage in most European countries have declined. Yet being unmarried does not necessarily mean being un-partnered. Studies indicate that people spend longer periods in non-marital partnerships such as cohabitation and living apart together (LAT); And while cohabitation has captured the attention of researchers, we still know relatively little about non-cohabiting (LAT) relationships. One of the central questions is whether these partnerships are temporary arrangements and should be viewed as part of courtship towards marriage or cohabitation, or whether they are a long-term arrangement replacing marriage and cohabitation. The current study sets out to fill this gap and asks about intentions to cohabit. This study further asks whether reasons for being in a non-cohabiting relationship affect intentions to cohabit. This study draws on the first wave of the cross-national comparative Generations and Gender Program (GGP) (United Nations, 2005). Preliminary findings show that intentions to cohabit among people in LAT relationships differ by age and gender. The great majority of young people intend to cohabit within three years, whereas only a third of the older men and a quarter of older women have these intentions. The findings also reveal an interesting gender difference, among the youngest age group more women have intentions to cohabit than men, but among the older age groups the pattern is reversed, and fewer women have intentions to cohabit compared to men. The findings also show that reasons for living apart differ by age. The most common reason for younger people to live apart is that they do not feel ready, whereas the most common reason for older people to live apart is to maintain their independence. Next, I will ask whether reasons for living apart affect intentions to live together.

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Presented in Session 27: Living apart together