Fewer people marry after living together

28/03/2006 14:00

Nearly 750 thousand unmarried couples were living together in the Netherlands on 1 January 2005. Nearly half of couples living together at the start of this century do not expect to get married.

Living together

More and more unmarried couples have been living together in the last few decades. The number of married couples remained fairly stable in the period 1995–2005, at just over 3.4 million. The number of unmarried couples living together rose from just over 500 to nearly 750 thousand in the same period. This hefty increase is connected with the fact that not only more unmarried couples are now living together, but that they are doing so for longer periods, especially couples with children.

Unmarried couples living together

Unmarried couples living together

Marriage after living together

Studies have shown that at the end of the 1960s, nine out of ten women married without having lived together first. Since then, this proportion has dropped drastically, and today only one in ten women marry without living together first. Most women live together with their partners. Although some do or intend to get married later, more and more women are reporting that they want to remain living together without getting married.

First type of relationship, by period

First type of relationship, by period

Cohabitation in time

Nearly three-quarters of women who started living together with a partner in 1970–1979 had married this partner eight years later. Ten percent were still living together unmarried eight years later. Cohabitation relationships which started in 1990–1994 were less likely to have resulted in marriage eight years later than in the seventies. The percentage of women who had married their partner after eight years had fallen to 50, and more than 20 percent were still living together with the partner without being married.

Women living together for the first time, situation after 8 years

Women living together for the first time, situation after 8 years

One quarter of relationships does not last eight years

So not only are more women living together, but fewer of these relationships are ending in marriage. The share of relationships that had broken up eight years later did rise: from 15 percent in 1970–1979 to one quarter in 1980-1989. Since then it has remained the same.

Anouschka van der Meulen and Arie de Graaf