(NEW YORK) -- Not that long ago, a man and a woman living under the same roof without the benefit of marriage were regarded as “living in sin.”
If that’s really the case, then the country is turning into a real den of iniquity.
The number of men and women over the age of 50 who are cohabitating has exploded from 1.2 million in 2000 to 2.75 million a decade later, based on records from the Health and Retirement Study and the Current Population Survey covering that time span.
Bowling Green State University researcher Susan Brown says what’s most interesting about the study is that while older Americans are mimicking the lifestyle of younger people, they are more committed to staying together even though they're not legally bound to do so.
For instance, among the couples over 50 who were cohabitating in 2000, 70 percent were still in that same arrangement by 2010, with 18 percent breaking up and 12 percent deciding to tie the knot.
As for the past experience of couples 50 and older who “shack up,” most have been divorced, followed by widows and widowers and lastly, people who have never been married.
Brown says many older Americans enjoy cohabitation because there’s no mixing of financial assets and women, in particular, are less inclined to want to be tied down, especially if a partner’s health takes a turn for the worse. In this way, there’s arguably less of an obligation to be a caregiver.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio