Reasons for the increase in cohabitation.


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  • Created on: 25-05-12 17:03
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1. Identify and explain two reasons for the increase in cohabitation in the
contemporary UK.
Since 2001, the number of cohabiting couple families has risen dramatically from 2.1 million to
2.9 million, according to ONS.
One reason for the increase in cohabitation would be due to the changing norms and values.
Chandler (1993) argued that cohabitation is increasingly becoming as a long term
alternative to marriage. He suggests this is reflected in the increasing proportions of
children out of marriage ­ partners no longer feel as much pressure to marry to
legitimize a pregnancy.
CHESTER's view (1985) was that people were simply DELAYING marriage: cohabitation
was a temporary phase, a trial marriage, before couples decided to marry. About half of
couples cohabit before their first marriage. (NB the ONS shows that the length of time
people cohabit is increasing).
Gibson (1994) argued that such attitudes have come about due to secularisation: the
weakening influence of the Christian Churches in the UK. The British Social Attitudes
Survey shows it is become increasingly acceptable to detach sex, child-bearing and
child-rearing from marriage.
Another reason for the increase in cohabitation in the contemporary UK would be due to legal
and social policy changes.
In 1969 the Divorce Reform Act was responsible for a large rise in divorce; it
allowed people to divorce if they could prove their relation had `broken down
irretrievably'. The court no longer required a `guilty' partner to be identified.
In 1984 the law allowed couples to petition for divorce after just one year of
marriage instead of 3 years.
Civil partnership Act in 2005 granted same-sex couples rights and responsibilities
identical to civil marriage. The growing acceptability of same sex relation-ships meant
that they are likely to cohabit openly with partner than be `forced' into a marriage for
`social respectability'.


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