Religious couples are less likely to get divorced despite marrying younger — a factor generally associated with higher divorce rates — because they are less likely to live together before marriage, according to the Institute for Family Studies (IFS).
For those who married in their twenties, cohabitation before marriage was associated with higher divorce rates for both religious and non-religious couples, the study found. The study found no difference in divorce rates between religious and non-religious couples who chose not to live together before marriage.
Religiosity itself played a minor role in reducing divorce rates when the data was broken down between religious versus nonreligious couples but, according to IFS, the primary reason religious couples are less likely to divorce is that they are more likely to get married before they move in together.
Religious women are 20% less likely to cohabit and 10% less likely to divorce in the first 15 years of marriage compared to nonreligious women, the study found. And the association between cohabitation and divorce is especially strong for those who cohabit with someone other than their spouse before getting married.
The trend reversed for those who married in their thirties, with religious, non-cohabiting couples about as likely to divorce as nonreligious cohabiting couples, though religious couples were still slightly less likely to get divorced overall for that age range.
Approximately 70% of couples cohabit before marriage, a cause and consequence of the rising average age at which people get married, according to IFS. Only 5% of couples cohabited before marriage in the 1960s, IFS said.
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