Study Finds Cohabiting Couples are Happier Than Married Couples

Posted on January 27, 2012

A new study published in the February issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family found that cohabiting couples are happier than married couples. The research was co-authored by Kelly Musick, associate professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell's College of Human Ecology, and sociologist Larry Bumpass of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Musick says, "We found that differences between marriage and cohabitation tend to be small and dissipate after a honeymoon period. Also while married couples experienced health gains -- likely linked to the formal benefits of marriage such as shared health care plans -- cohabiting couples experienced greater gains in happiness and self-esteem. For some, cohabitation may come with fewer unwanted obligations than marriage and allow for more flexibility, autonomy and personal growth."

The study followed 2,737 single men and women. 896 of the men and women married or moved in with a partner over the six year study, which focused on key areas of well-being, considering questions on happiness, levels of depression, health and social ties.

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