The Daily Mail has this week highlighted a report by the Jubilee Centre published earlier this year:
Couples who live together before they marry are ‘significantly’ more likely to end up divorced, says a report by a Christian think-tank.
The study also discovered that more couples are cohabiting than ever before - with the average time living together before tying the knot doubling to three-and-a-half years in the past four decades.
It said that couples who cohabited before marriage were 45 per cent more likely to split than those who waited until after the wedding.
The report by Dr John Hayward and Dr Guy Brandon said: 'Despite the popularity of cohabitation and its relationship to marriage, it is also the case that marriages that start with a period of prior cohabitation are significantly more prone to divorce than those that do not.
'Where there has been a previous cohabitation with a separate person by one of both partners, the likelihood of divorce soars.'
Couples who never marry are six times more likely to split by the time their first child is five, it added.
'This suggests that cohabitation is now being treated somewhat differently to the way it was in the 1960s and 70s,' said the report, Cohabitation: An Alternative to Marriage?
The data was based on 14,103 households and 22,265 adults.
The research follows on from the think-tank's 2010 publication Cohabitation in the 21st Century, which showed the cost of family breakdown is £41.7billion.This is equivalent to £1,350 for every taxpayer each year.
It claimed these costs will rise 'significantly' over the next 25 years, with its analysis based on almost 30,000 family cases drawn from a nationwide survey.
The new report, ‘Cohabitation: An Alternative to Marriage?’, which was originally published in June this year, is available free on the Jubilee Centre website.
It is described as follows:
Cohabitation serves a range of purposes and masks a wide variety of commitment levels: it cannot be considered solely as an alternative to marriage, as is its popular perception. Building on the Jubilee Centre's 2010 report into cohabitation trends, and based on even more recent data from the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study, this year-by-year analysis reveals a clearer picture of how trends have changed over time – and continue to change – and a better understanding of the present situation. This allows for a broader range of conclusions and a better understanding of how cohabitation itself is viewed by couples today, compared to attitudes in previous decades.