Cohabitation in Great Britain: not for long, but here to stay

Publication type

Research Paper

Series Number



Working Papers of the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change


Publication date

April 1, 1998


This paper uses a new source of data to study the dramatic increase in cohabiting unions in Great Britain. It analyses, in turn, entry to first partnership, the stability of cohabiting unions and repartnering after cohabitation dissolution. In excess of 70% of first partnerships are now cohabitations, and these last a relatively short time before being either turned into marriage or dissolved. The paper examines the role played by cohabitation in the changes in the patterns of first marriage across cohorts, presents an analysis of who is likely to cohabit in their first partnership, allowing for the competing risk of direct marriage, and investigates the factors associated with the dissolution of cohabitations. It also examines childbearing within cohabitating unions.



working paper

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