The Link Between the Divorce Revolution and the Cohabitation Boom

B Perelli-Harris, A Berrington, P Galezewska, N Sánchez Gassen, Jennifer Holland

Research output: Working paperAcademic


Over the past decades, divorce and cohabitation have increased dramatically throughout Europe. Divorce has fundamentally altered the institution of marriage from a life-long union to one that may dissolve. Cohabitation allows couples to live together without undertaking the vows of marriage, but also allows couples to avoid the potentially higher costs of divorce. Thus, divorce and cohabitation seem to be intrinsically linked. Here we theorize how the increase in divorce may be linked to the increase in cohabitation on the macro-, meso-, and micro-levels. Using focus group data from 8 countries, we explore how divorce may have changed attitudes and beliefs concerning marriage and cohabitation. We then investigate whether survey data and official statistics in 16 countries provide evidence consistent with a link. While exogenous factors have been important for the increase in cohabitation, we argue that the divorce revolution has been a catalyst for the cohabitation boom.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSouthampton, UK
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

SeriesESRC Centre for Population Change Working Paper Series


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