In a study that throws conventional wisdom to the wind, a sociologist now says that shacking up before marriage isn't tied to divorce, in what is ostensibly good news for the two-thirds of marriages where cohabitation precedes the wedding day. Researchers and social commentators have proclaimed the existence of the link for decades, with research suggesting as much appearing as early as the 1970s. But Arielle Kuperberg's research, released by the nonpartisan Council on Contemporary Families, came at the issue from a different angle; "people were measuring it the wrong way," she says.
Earlier studies compared couples' divorce rates based on the age when they married; Kuperberg instead looked at the age they began living together, which she saw as a stand-in for when marriage-like roles began, reports LiveScience. Her finding, based on 1995, 2002, and 2006 survey data encompassing 7,000 couples compiled by the US government: "Cohabitation does not cause divorce." What she did find, the Christian Science Monitor reports, is that the age when a couple starts living together, married or not, is the biggest indicator of whether they'll make it. Shack up before 23, and you're more likely to split later. She explains: "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. And age has to do with economics." (More marriage news: Women are "marrying down" in record numbers.)