The most common "important" reason people cohabit is to learn about
their partner. 50% say that learning about a potential marriage partner
is a very important reason to cohabit. No other reason is close.
The most important reason not to cohabit is emotional risk,
though other reasons including parents, morals, finances, commitment, and
faithfulness are important to a significant group as well.
Responses Disaggregated by Other Variables
Frequency of Attending Religious Services
Ordered Probit Regression Results
Responses to reasons to cohabit do not vary with relationship type.
But responses to reasons to not cohabit do vary. Married people
worried about only commitment and faithfulness, while cohabitors are
much more worried about emotional risk, finances, parents, and morals.
Responses do not vary significantly by race.
Responses do not vary significantly by religion.
Education has some effect on responses. More education reduces
frequency of the importance of all reasons to cohabit except learning.
It also reduces the frequency of the importance of finances, commitment,
and faithfulness as reasons to not cohabit.
Gender has no effect on responses about reasons to cohabit. Women
are much more frequently worried about the emotional risk associated with
cohabitation, but there are no other significant differences between men
and women with respect to responses about reasons to not cohabit.
Older people are much more likely to want to cohabit for sex and are
much less likely to want to cohabit to learn about their partner. And
here everyone thought that young people were sex-crazed. Older people
are also less likely to think that there are any good reasons not
to cohabit. Maybe it's a hippy generation thing. More likely, it is
that older people are asked these questions only if they are cohabiting
while all non-married people under 35 are asked the questions.
Responses do not vary significantly by frequency of attending
There are three questions measuring degree of religious fundamentalism.
The first is how much the respondent agrees with the statement,
"The Bible is God's word, and everything happened or will happen exactly
as it says." There is no significant difference in the responses for
reasons to cohabit between fundamentalists and non-fundamentalists.
Surprisingly, fundamentalists are less concerned about moral issues with
respect to reasons not to cohabit than non-fundamentalists.
The second is how much the respondent agrees with the
statement, "The Bible is the answer to all important human problems."
There is still no significant difference in the responses for reasons
to cohabit. The differences in responses for reasons to not
cohabit are not as large as for the first question but have the same
The third is how much the respondent agrees with the statement "I
regard myself as a religious fundamentalist." For this question, the
differences in responses are all pretty small.
For the sake of this page, "important" is defined as giving a score
of 6 or 7 on a scale of 1 to 7.
For the sake of this page, "fundamentalist" is defined as agreeing
with a score of 4 or more on a scale of 1 to 7.
Possible reasons allowed for cohabiting are:
Possible reasons allowed for not cohabiting are:
||Requires less commitment than marriage|
||Better sex life than dating|
||Opportunity to share living expenses|
||Does not require as much sexual faithfulness as marriage|
||Provides an opportunity to learn about partner prior to marriage|
||Allows for more independence than marriage|
The age cutoff for old vs. young is 50.
One is considered attending religious services frequently if one
attends at least twice a month.
Definitions of variables and values are defined in the
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||There is more emotional risk than when dating|
||Friends would disapprove|
||Parents would disapprove|
||It is morally wrong|
||It is financially risky relative to dating|
||It requires more commitment than dating|
||It requires more sexual faithfulness than dating|
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