FRIDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Baby Boomers are in the mood for shacking up, and not just for a little while: The percentage of older Americans who are living together has skyrocketed in recent years, and new research finds that those who cohabit are most likely to stay that way instead of splitting or getting married.
"Cohabitation is really taking hold across the generations. It is now a viable alternative to marriage, even to older adults," said Susan Brown, the study's lead author and co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Although the overall number of older people who are living together is still small compared to those who are single or married, it more than doubled in 10 years: About 2.75 million people over the age of 50 were cohabiting in the United States in 2010 compared to 1.2 million a decade earlier, according to the research. Among those aged 50 to 64, 12 percent of single people were living together in 2010, up from just 7 percent a decade earlier.
Brown and her colleagues sought to understand cohabitation in older adults, who as a group are avoiding marriage more than in the past. About a third of Baby Boomers -- born from 1946 to 1964 -- are unmarried today, compared to just 20 percent of people who were their age in 1980.
"There's been this rapid acceleration of being single, and more single people means more people at risk of cohabiting," Brown said. "We were just interested in figuring out the patterns of these unions."
The new study, which appears in the August issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, used data from the 1998 to 2006 Health and Retirement Study and the 2000 and 2010 Current Population Surveys to track more than 3,700 older unmarried people and nearly 400 people who cohabited. The people were aged 51 to 75; a small number of same-sex rela
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