Nearly three quarters of Catholics in the US are not opposed to couples cohabiting before marriage, despite the Church’s moral teaching.
A new survey by the Pew Research Centre reports that Americans as a whole are very accepting of unmarried couples living together, even if they have no plans to marry. Additionally, Pew found that a shrinking percentage of adults are getting married, and an increasing number of adults have decided to cohabit.
Only 14% of adults surveyed said they did not believe that it was ever acceptable for two unmarried adults in a romantic relationship to live together. An additional 16% said that they agreed with cohabitation only if there were plans for the couple to one day get married.
Of the people surveyed, 69% said they believed it was acceptable for an unmarried couple to live together, without any plans to eventually wed.
In 2002, the National Survey of Family Growth found that while 54% of adults between the ages of 18 and 44 had ever cohabited with a romantic partner, 60% had ever been married. By 2017, the number of adults who had ever been married dropped to 50%, while the number of adults who had cohabitated rose to 54%.
Pew found that race and religion played a role in whether or not a person was approving of the ideal of cohabitation. A total of 72% of white respondents said that cohabitation without a plan to get married was acceptable, with an additional 13% saying they approved of cohabitation without a plan to get married. Of black survey respondents, 23%, the largest of any ethnic group, said that they did not think cohabitation was ever acceptable. Only 55% of black respondents said they approved of cohabitation without planning on getting married.
Religion was a factor as well. Catholics and white mainline Protestants had nearly identical rates of approval of cohabitation – the survey found that 74% of Catholics and 76% of white Protestants who do not claim to be born-again or evangelical were okay with an unmarried couple cohabitating.
Conversely, this figure dropped to 47% for black Protestants and 35% for white evangelical Protestants.