More than one third of unmarried women will live with a sexual partner at some time in their lives, according to interviews conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.
The 1988 survey of 8,450 women ages 15 to 44 found that 50.3 percent were married, 7.8 percent were divorced, 5.2 percent were cohabiting, 2.8 percent were separated, 0.7 percent were widowed, and 33.3 percent had never married.
Among women ages 25 to 34, nearly half said they had cohabited at some time in their lives. Among all married women, more than 25 percent of first marriages were preceded by cohabitation with a prospective spouse. The survey found slightly more than half of the couples who lived together ultimately married, while 37 percent broke up.
Women ages 25 to 29 were more likely than either younger or older women to live with a partner before marriage. Older women were more likely to live with a partner after their first marriage ended.
While some women view living with a sexual partner as an alternative to marriage, nearly two thirds of women under age 44 have been married at least once.
Women ages 15-44
Cohabited before first marriage: 25.4%
Ever cohabited: 33.5%
Ever married: 63.8%
SOURCE: NATIONAL CENTER FOR HEALTH STATISTICS, 1991