While you may still get some side-eye from you grandmother, don’t sweat it if you have a baby before getting married — turns out the success rate of marriages down the road is the same either way.
A new study has found that divorce rates of couples in the U.S. who got married after having a baby are no higher than those who did things in a more traditional order.
It’s a sign of changing attitudes, said study co-author Kelly Musick, associate professor at Cornell University.
The study used large-scale data from 1995 and 2006-2010, analyzing more than 5,000 couples.
Researchers compared the information from women who’d had a baby between 1985 and 1995, to those who had their first child between 1997 and 2010.
Couples from the earlier time period who’d married after the birth of their child were 60 per cent more likely to divorce than couples who married first.
But researchers found a dramatic change in data from the couples in the later time period: those who married after having a baby, had “no higher chance of breaking up” than those who tied the knot before having children.
Musick said an “important change” has been documented in the level of stability now found in cohabitating yet unmarried parents. She said it is always a surprise to find new data patterns.
“But at the same time, this change is consistent with other shifts in family life that point to the blurring of boundaries between marriage and cohabitation.”
With the number of cohabitating couples having kids rising dramatically since the 1980s, it’s important to know how the nature and stability of those couples is changing, particularly for the sake of the children, Musick said.
“From the perspective of children, living with two cohabiting parents in many ways resembles living with two married parents—with two potential earners and caretakers in the home,” Musick said. “These couples, however, have tended to be less stable, and family transitions can be a risk factor for children.”
The study found that it was only couples who never got married than ran the higher risk of not staying together.
“We found that about 30 per cent of couples who never married separated within five years, a breakup rate twice as high as that we found among the married,” a briefing paper on the study published recently by the Council on Contemporary Families stated, ahead of its full release in the journal Demography.
Moving forward, Musick stressed, it’s important to analyze the causes and effects of family instability on kids of parents who never marry to get a “better understanding of family life among this subset of cohabitors.”