The economic downturn may have led to a boom in serious romantic relationships.
A new study from the U.S. Census Bureau has found that the number of opposite sex couples living together increased by 13% from 2009 to 2010. Last year, there were a total of 6.7 million unmarried couples living together, and this year that number has jumped to 7.5 million.
At the same time, the study found that for these couples, one partner was more likely to be unemployed than in previous years. In total, just 39% of couples living together in 2010 were fully employed. By comparison, 50% of those who already lived together prior to this year had both partners employed.
“The fact that a significantly lower percentage of the newly formed couples have both partners employed in 2010 than couples who were already living together in 2010 … may reflect couples’ responses to the ongoing difficulty of finding jobs in 2010 as the recession continues,” wrote Rose M. Kreider, the author of the study and a demographer for the Census Bureau. “[It] is presumably more cost effective to maintain a single residence rather than each partner living separately.”
In other words, the poor economy seems to have led more Americans to take their relationships to the next level. However, previous studies have shown that fewer couples are willing or ready to get married.
As the Wall Street Journal points out, the marriage rate in the U.S. declined during the recession, from 7.3% in 2007 to 6.8% in 2009. Meanwhile, the divorce and infidelity rates in this country have declined too.
So it seems that Americans are hesitant about the financial costs of entering into marriage and ending it. While moving in together can be a big step as well for some couples, it’s one that at least makes sense to your wallet.