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Education and cohabitation in Britain: return to traditional patterns?

27th June 2013 3pm, University of Southampton 58/1009

Maire Ni Bhrolchain, University of Southampton

Cohabitation is sometimes thought of as being inversely associated with education, but in Britain a more complex picture emerges. Educational group differences in cohabitation vary by age, by time period, by cohort, and by indicator used. Well educated women pioneered cohabitation in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s. Over time, however, the less well educated caught up and have now overtaken the best educated at younger ages. But the principal difference by education currently is largely in timing--that is, the less well educated start cohabiting earlier than the best educated. In Britain, educational differentials in cohabitation appear to be reinstating long standing social patterns in the level and timing of marriage. Taking partnerships as a whole, social differentials have been fairly stable. Despite rapid recent change, there is, thus, much continuity with the past.