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Generation X and Millennials
Bart Stykes
FP-15-13
Attitudes About Having & Raising Children in Cohabiting Unions
Cohabitation has become an increasingly common family context to have and raise children. One in five children are born to cohabiting parents, and this level has doubled in the last twenty years (see FP-15-03). Meanwhile, about half of children are expected to spend time living with cohabiting parents (Kennedy and Bumpass, 2008). While we know about the trends in family living arrangements, much less is known about attitudes toward having and raising children in cohabiting unions. This profile focuses on attitudes toward having and raising children in cohabiting unions among women belonging to Generation X (born 1965-1980) and the Millennials (born 1981-2000). Variation according to a woman’s relationship and fertility histories is considered using the 2008/2013 pooled National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG).
It is okay to have and raise children when the parents are living together but not married.
NSFG Questionnaire
Strongly agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly disagree
Women voice considerable support for cohabitation as a family context to have and raise children. Almost three in four (74%) women aged 15-44 agreed it was okay to have and raise children in cohabiting unions (results not shown) with little differences according to race/ethnicity, educational attainment, and age.
74%
WOMEN AGREE
to have and raise children in cohabiting unions
OK
Women who have ever cohabited have the highest share endorsing cohabitation as a family context to have and raise children. Just over half (55%) of women who did not cohabit prior to marrying were supportive of childbearing and rearing in cohabitation compared to over three-fourths (78%) of their counterparts who cohabited before marrying. Almost nine in ten (87%) women who ever cohabited but never married voiced support for having and raising children in cohabiting unions compared to seven in ten (71%) single women.
Figure 1. Support for Having and Raising Children in Cohabiting Unions, by Detailed Relationship Histories
Relationship Histories and Support for Having and Raising Children in Cohabiting Unions
Only direct married
Ever cohabited, before marriage
Ever cohabited, never married
Never married, never cohabited
Fertility Histories and Support for Childbearing in Cohabiting Unions
The majority of all mothers agreed that it was okay to have and raise children in cohabiting unions. Yet 65% of mothers who only had their children in marriage endorsed cohabitation as an acceptable family context to have and raise children.  In contrast, support for having and raising children in cohabiting unions is high among mothers who had ever had a nonmarital birth (81%, not shown) and even higher among mothers who only had children in cohabiting unions (88%).
Figure 2. Support for Having and Raising Children in Cohabiting Unions, by Detailed Fertility Histories
Only marital births
Only cohabiting births
Only single births
Cohabiting & single births
Marital & non-marital births
Check out these other NCFMR Family Profiles on marriage, cohabitation, family, & parenting attitudes:
Thirty Years of Change in Mariage and Union Formation Attitudes, 1976-2008
Thirty Years of Change in Family Roles and Parenthood Attitudes, 1976-2008
Generation X and Millennials: Attitudes Toward Marriage & Divorce
References:
Data: Pooled 2008/2010 & 2011/13 National Survey of Family Growth, Female Respondents.
Kennedy, S. & Bumpass, L. L. (2008). Cohabitation and children's living arrangements: New estimates from the United States.
Demographic Research, 19
(47), 1663-1692
Suggested Citation:
Stykes, B. (2015). Generation X and Millennials: Attitudes About Having & Raising Children in Cohabiting Unions (FP-15-13). National Center for Family & Marriage Research.
Retrieved from: http://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources/data/family-profiles/stykes-gen-x-millennials-fp-15-13
005 Williams Hall Bowling Green State University Bowling Green, OH 43403
This project is supported with assistance from Bowling Green State University. From 2007 to 2013, support was also provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policy of any agency of the state or federal government.
National Center for Family & Marriage Research
Family Profiles: Original reports summarizing and analyzing nationally representative data with the goal to provide the latest analysis of U.S. families. These profiles examine topics related to the NCFMR's core research themes.
http://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr.html
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