Couples who live together are just as happy as their married peers, a new study suggests.
Using data from 8,700 people born between 1980 and 1984, academics from Ohio State University found that young women experienced a “decline in emotional distress when they moved in with a romantic partner”. A similar decline was also identified when women went straight into a marriage for the first time.
The researchers found that while couples experienced a similar rise in happiness after moving in together or getting married, there was “no additional boost” when cohabitation transitioned into marriage.
Respondents were interviewed every other year from 2000 to 2010 as part of the university’s National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. They were each asked about their relationship status and their levels of emotional distress.
Ohio State human sciences professor Claire Kamp Dush was one of the study’s authors. She said the results could indicate that the idea of unmarried couples living together has less stigma among young people than it did among older generations.
The findings also suggest that “marriage isn’t necessary to reap the benefits of living together”, she added.
In August, British researchers claimed that cohabitation and marriage have similar health benefits.