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Best predictor of divorce? Age when couples cohabit, study says. -

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For years, social scientists have tried to explain why living together before marriage seemed to increase the likelihood of a couple divorcing. Now, new research released by the nonpartisan Council on Contemporary Families gives an answer:

It doesn’t. And it probably never has.

This is despite two decades of warnings from academics and social commentators who pointed to studies that claimed a correlation between “shacking up” and splitting up – warnings that increased as the number of couples living together before marriage skyrocketed.

23 is the turning point:

Couples who begin living together without being married tend to be younger than those who move in after the wedding ceremony – that’s why cohabitation seemed to predict divorce, Professor Kuperburg explains. But once researchers control for that age variable, it turns out that premarital cohabitation by itself has little impact on a relationship’s longevity. Those who began living together, unmarried or married, before the age of 23 were the most likely to later split.

“Part of it is maturity, part of it is picking the right partner, part of it is that you’re really not set up in the world yet,” she says. “And age has to do with economics.”

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