Cohabitation trends and patterns in the UK

Publication type

Research Paper


Ann Berrington and Juliet Stone

Publication date


This short report documents the increase in cohabitation and in cohabiting couple families in the UK. It then uses data from the Understanding Society Survey to compare characteristics of married and cohabiting couples with dependent children in the UK.Key Points• Cohabitation has become a normative behaviour in the UK, though the role of cohabiting partnerships varies across individuals and across the life course.• Children are increasingly born and raised within cohabiting couple families. Cohabiting couple families tend to be younger, less financially secure and more likely to be in social housing.• The different demographic and socio-economic characteristics of cohabiting and married couple families must be taken into account when comparing the relative stability of cohabitation and marriage.


Demography, Social Change, Young People, Family Formation And Dissolution and Childbearing: Fertility