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Best predictor of divorce? Age when couples cohabit, study says.

SouthernDemocrat

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A new study suggests the age when couples start cohabiting – whether married or unmarried – correlates with divorce rates, adding new nuance to studies about cohabitation and marriage.[h=2]For years, social scientists have tried to explain why living together before marriage seemed to increase the likelihood of a couple divorcing. Now, new research released by the nonpartisanCouncil on Contemporary Families gives an answer:

it doesn’t. And it probably never has.
This is despite two decades of warnings from academics and social commentators who pointed to studies that claimed a correlation between “shacking up” and splitting up – warnings that increased as the number of couples living together before marriage skyrocketed.


As it turns out, those studies that linked premarital cohabitation and divorce were measuring the wrong variable, says Arielle Kuperburg, a professor at theUniversity of North Carolina, Greensboro, who produced much of the research released Monday. The biggest predictor of divorce, she says, is actually the age at which a couple begins living together, whether before the wedding vows or after.
“Up until now, we’ve had this mysterious finding that cohabitation causes divorce,” she says. “Nobody’s been able to explain it. And now we have – it was that people were measuring it the wrong way.”
Couples who begin living together without being married tend to be younger than those who move in after the wedding ceremony – that’s why cohabitation seemed to predict divorce, Professor Kuperburg explains. But once researchers control for that age variable, it turns out that premarital cohabitation by itself has little impact on a relationship’s longevity. Those who began living together, unmarried or married, before the age of 23 were the most likely to later split.
“Part of it is maturity, part of it is picking the right partner, part of it is that you’re really not set up in the world yet,” she says. “And age has to do with economics.”


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Best predictor of divorce? Age when couples cohabit, study says. - CSMonitor.com[/h]I have said this for years. Looks like the latest science agrees.
 

molten_dragon

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SouthernDemocrat

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I was 23 and my wife (fiance at the time) was 22 when we moved in together. Guess we're due for a divorce.
Well its just a starter marriage you know... Just kidding. I was just 24 when my wife I got married. We had been shacked up since I was 23. We have been married 14 years, have 3 kids, and are happy.
 

Jetboogieman

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Well I'm 24 and my wife is 32, don't know where the **** that leaves us.
 

RiverDad

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Read more here: [/FONT]
Best predictor of divorce? Age when couples cohabit, study says. - CSMonitor.com[/h]I have said this for years. Looks like the latest science agrees.
Your thread title, which I see that you pulled from the CSM article, is misleading. Age is not the "best" nor the "biggest" predictor because this study (which is forthcoming and the only info presented is Press Releases) doesn't compare against other predictors. All the study author did was look at age. If you only look at one variable, then you can't argue that it's the best or biggest predictor of divorce.

I'm looking at the author's summary right now and I've got to think about it for a bit because I'm sensing that there are methodological flaws and I want to work this through in my mind before I say more.
 

RiverDad

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After some thought, I do think there are problems with the conclusions of this study. Here is a summary of what the researcher did:

Kuperberg did something new: She compared the relationships using the date of first moving in together. That date, she reasoned, is when a couple really takes on the roles of marriage, regardless of whether they have a legal certificate.

Using this method, she found no link between whether people had cohabited before marriage and their rate of divorce. The turning point in age for picking a life partner seems to be about 23, Kuperberg said.

"That's when people are able to pick a partner who is more compatible," she said. "Maybe they are a little more mature. They're a little set up in the world."

The timing seems to coincide with college graduation, she added. Moving in with someone before both people are set in their career paths and schooling may increase the risk that one decides to take a job in New York while the other wants to go to graduate school in California.​

What I suspect is going on is that there is a class bifurcation going on. College graduates leave college and then begin to live together while those who don't go to college begin living together at an earlier age. Those non-college people bring with them the effects which arise from social class and economics and these effects influence quality of life and marriage and divorce whereas college graduates have a somewhat less rocky road and this, in turn, leads to a more stable married life.

I'd be very surprised if this finding has stronger effect size than that noted for the woman's sexual partner count.
 
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