Spouse or roomie? Study shows adults ages 18-31 more likely to take roommmate

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4 2013 1:30 p.m. MDT

Since 1968, most living arrangements for adults ages 18-31 have shifted from spouses to roommates.

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Since 1968, most living arrangements for adults ages 18-31 have shifted from spouses to roommates, according to, “How Roommates Replaced Spouses in the 20th Century,” an article by Derek Thompson that ran in the Atlantic on Sep. 3.

“In the last half-century, home life for young people has undergone an amazing shift,” Thompson wrote. “Friends and Craigslist strangers have essentially replaced spouses as the de facto first living-partners for American 20-somethings.”

According to Pew Research, in 1968, six percent of adults ages 18-31 lived with roommates, and 56 percent lived with a spouse; while in 2012, 27 percent lived with roommates, and 23 percent were married.

The article offers a few explanations in the shift of living arrangements, including more people — particularly women — pursuing college degrees, and the growing acceptance of birth control.

“The share of adults with a bachelor's degree has nearly doubled since 1968, and most of the change is because of women who rallied into the workforce. As more women grabbed degrees, the average marriage age has steadily inched up into the upper 20s,” the article says. “Meanwhile, birth control, in particular normalization of ‘the pill,’ nearly eliminated the odds of becoming pregnant, allowing women to invest with confidence in their work-life and delay marriage without worrying about an unwanted pregnancy derailing their careers.”

The study from Pew Research also revealed that Millennials who are married decreased from 30 percent in 2007, to 25 percent in 2012.

Abby Stevens is a writer for the DeseretNews.com Faith and Family sections. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact Abby at astevens@deseretdigital.com.

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