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Cohabiting parents seen a danger to children's welfare

August 17, 2011

America has seen an explosion in the number of couples who live together and raise children without benefit of marriage. A new study shows that the number of couples has increased by 1200% since 1970.

Cohabitation by unmarried parents is “the largest unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children’s family lives,” the new study by the National Marriage Project finds. The study, entitled “Why Marriage Matters,” shows that children living with unmarried parents are more likely to suffer from abuse and neglect, and far more likely to see their parents break up before they are teenagers.

Cohabitation, rather than divorce, has become the most common reason why children are not living with their parents, the study shows. In the past 20 years, the number of 16-year-0ld Americans living with both parents has dropped from 66% to 55%, with the numbers much higher in some socio-economic groups, especially among the poor.

“The educated and affluent enjoy relatively strong, stable families,” observes W. Bradfox Wilcox. The director of the National Marriage Project. “Everyone else is more likely to be consigned to unstable, unworkable ones.”


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