July 14, 2024

Bucks: Living Together Pays Off More for the College-Educated

Living together outside of marriage can carry economic benefits. But the payoff seems to be much higher for those with college degrees than those without, says a new study from the Pew Research Center.

The prevalence of cohabitation has doubled among 30- to 44-year-olds since 1995, even though marriage has long been associated with a variety of benefits, financial and otherwise.

But the Pew study, based on federal Census data, found that when measured by household income and poverty rates, the college-educated cohabitors compared favorably with similar married couples, and were better off than adults without opposite-sex partners.

Cohabitors without a college degree, in contrast, were worse off than comparable married adults and barely surpassed those without opposite-sex partners in terms of economic well-being. (The study focused only on opposite-sex couples.)

Here are some numbers: Among college-educated adults, the median adjusted household income of cohabitors in 2009 was $106,400. That’s a bit higher than that of married adults, at $101,160, and far above that of adults without opposite-sex partners. But among adults without college degrees, the median adjusted household income of cohabitors was $46,540 — well below the $56,800 of married couples, and barely higher than the income of adults without opposite-sex partners ($45,033).

Differences in employment rates and household living arrangements of those with and without college degrees can help explain the gaps in economic well-being, the study says. For instance, cohabitors without college degrees are much more likely than those with college degrees to have children in the home, which affects the ability of both partners to earn income.

“For the most educated, living as an unmarried couple typically is an economically productive way to combine two incomes and is a step toward marriage and childbearing,” the report says. “For adults without college degrees, cohabitation is more likely to be a parallel household arrangement to marriage — complete with children — but at a lower economic level than married adults enjoy.”

What’s your view? Is living together primarily an economic arrangement?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=a6c7eceb68233a0d78c2bd5730ca3170

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