Marriage and cohabitation are two forms of living together as a couple, but they differ in several key aspects, such as legal recognition, rights and obligations, and cultural and religious significance. These differences are seen to be the advantages of marriage over cohabitation.

Years ago, getting married was the expectation. However, over the years, the acceptance of cohabitation, or living together without being married, has become popular and increasingly accepted in many countries.

A survey launched by Real Research, an online survey app, attempted to gather public views on marriage and cohabitation.

Highlights on the report on cohabitation vs. marriage:

  • 42.66% find it acceptable for unmarried couples to cohabit even if they don’t plan on getting married
  • For many people, marriage represents the ultimate expression of love for their partner, as agreed by 17.38% of respondents
  • 58.82% support allowing cohabiting couples to enter into legal agreements that would give them the same rights as married couples

Public Views on Marriage and Cohabitation

Cohabiting partners do not have the same legal rights and protections as married couples, such as the right to inheritance and access to health care benefits. Nonetheless, 78.78% of the total respondents find these legal differences between marriage and cohabitation reasonable, while only 4.21% believe otherwise.

It is important to note that attitudes towards marriage and cohabitation can vary greatly among cultures and generations. What is considered unacceptable in one context may be acceptable in another. Also, couples’ reasons for cohabitation or marriage are personal ones that should be based on what is best for the individuals involved.

Based on survey findings, 42.66% find it acceptable for unmarried couples to live together even if they don’t plan on getting married. However, 34.42% say it is fine if they have plans, while 14.34% will never tolerate cohabitation.

Why Do People Marry?

Our respondents for this survey are mostly (55.94%) married, while others (13.45%) are cohabitating, some (10.31%) have cohabited, and the rest (13.96%) are neither married nor experienced cohabitating.

Figure 1: Reasons why people marry

Marriage is a significant life decision that brings two people together as partners in a legally recognized union. For many people, marriage represents the ultimate expression of love for their partner, as agreed by 17.38%.

For some, getting married is a way to fulfill social and cultural expectations, such as the expectation to start a family or the desire to have a traditional wedding. They are basically forced to marry because of societal (11.33%) and peer pressure (10.2%).

Since marriage can provide partners with certain legal rights and protections, others (10.91%) want it for its legal form of commitment.

Cohabiting Couples on ‘To Marry or Not to Marry?’

Many couples now choose to live together as a step towards marriage or even opt to cohabit instead of getting married. The survey asked why cohabiting couples who intend to get married someday choose to wait. Most (11.66%) reported the fear of the outright challenges that come with marriage. Some cited financial unpreparedness (11.37%), while others said cohabitation might be seen as a way to test a relationship, and so they are using it to wait for the “right time” (10.23%).

Figure 2: Cohabiting couples’ reasons for not getting married yet

Cohabiting couples who do not intend to get married also have reasons for not considering marriage. 8.01% reported this might be because of the fear of responsibilities that come with marriage. Others (7.73%) think they want to avoid serious relationships and enjoy more casual ones, while some (7.68%) say they see a lack of importance in marriage.

Figure 3: Cohabiting couples’ reasons for not considering marriage

Cohabitation vs. Marriage

Would living together before marriage lead to a successful relationship? While 33.15% remained neutral on this, 48% say it is likely, and the rest (18.85%) say it is unlikely.

In the past, cohabiting couples had very few legal rights, but today many countries have laws in place to protect the rights of cohabiting couples. Accordingly, 58.82% support allowing cohabiting couples to enter into legal agreements that would give them the same rights as married couples regarding health insurance, inheritance, or tax benefits. However, 25.88% oppose this.

Also Read: The Majority (56%) Agree That Cohabitation Laws Should Be Lifted for All Expatriates


Survey TitlePublic Views on Marriage and Cohabitation
DurationJanuary 29 – February 05, 2023
Number of Participants10,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.