Consensual partnering in the more developed countries

  • Gordon A. Carmichael
Review article

DOI: 10.1007/BF03029310

Cite this article as:
Carmichael, G.A. Journal of Population Research (1995) 12: 51. doi:10.1007/BF03029310


An especially spectacular demographic trend in the more developed countries since the mid-1960s has been the increasing frequency with which couples have cohabited without being formally married. This paper summarizes evidence that exists for the emergence of this phenomenon in different countries, and reviews the substantial literature it has generated. The latter part of the paper is organized under the following headings: ‘The international nature of the phenomenon’; ‘Reasons for the rise in consensual partnering’; ‘Who cohabits?’; ‘‘The nature of consensual unions’; ‘Union conversion to marriage and dissolution’; ‘The rise of consensual partnering and the retreat from marriage’; ‘The impact of premarital cohabitation on marital stability’; ‘Childbearing in consensual unions’; and ‘Consensual partnering following marital breakdown’. The view is expressed that research to date often has avoided confronting the diversity of meanings consensual unions have for those who live in them.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon A. Carmichael
    • 1
  1. 1.Demography Program Research School of Social SciencesThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia