The Woodstock generation is back to humming the 1971 Crosby, Stills & Nash hit "Love the one you're with," as the number of unmarried couples — many from divorces — living together has jumped 75 percent, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census numbers.
What's more, according to a Pew Research Center survey, they represent a quarter of all couples cohabitating, a number that is up 29 percent in less than two years.
Divorce, said Pew, could be a driver, making more and more older Americans "available for partnering or repartnering."
In its latest analysis, Pew said, "Roughly half of cohabiters – those living with an unmarried partner – are younger than 35. But an increasing number of Americans ages 50 and older are in cohabiting relationships, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of the Current Population Survey. In fact, cohabiters ages 50 and older represented about a quarter (23 percent) of all cohabiting adults in 2016."
It added, "Since 2007, the number of cohabiting adults ages 50 and older grew by 75 percent. This increase is faster than that of other age groups during this time period and is driven in part by the aging of Baby Boomers. In 2016, 4 million adults ages 50 and older were cohabiting – up from 2.3 million in 2007. By comparison, 8.9 million adults ages 18 to 34 were cohabiting last year, up from 7.2 million."
It's a sign of the times, said Pew. The divorce rate among those 50 and older is also soaring, and the result may be that once split, the formerly married are finding somebody else to shack up with.
The rising number of cohabiters ages 50 and older coincides with rising divorce rates among this group. With the higher divorce rates and a growing share of people who have never been married in this age group, more individuals are unmarried and available for partnering or re-partnering. In 2016, 61% of adults ages 50 and older were married, compared with 64% in 1990.
Most cohabiters ages 50 and older have previously been married, including a majority who are divorced (55%). Just over a tenth of cohabiters ages 50 and older (13%) are widowed – a share that rises to 27% among cohabiters 65 and older. Still, about one-fourth of cohabiters (27%) ages 50 and older have never been married.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org