Researchers interviewed over 12,200 women between 15 and 44 years of age and found that marriage was the first union among less than a quarter of the women. Around 48 percent revealed that their first union was cohabitation with their partners, up from 34 percent in 1995. Just over 23 percent stated that marriage was their first union, down from 39 percent in 1995.
The average period of cohabitation was 22 months with the union turning into marriage in 40 percent of the cases. The researchers also found that around 19 percent of the women gave birth to children during their first year of premarital cohabitation.
"Instead of marriage, people are moving into cohabitation as a first union. It's kind of a ubiquitous phenomenon now. Cohabitation is a common part of family formation in the United States, and serves both as a step toward marriage and as an alternative to marriage", the report said.