First cohabiting relationships: recent trends in France

Population and Societies

521, April 2015

In the 1960s, couples rarely lived together without being married. Since then, premarital cohabitation and consensual unions have become more widespread, although marriage has by no means disappeared. Drawing upon a recent survey whose initial findings are presented here, Wilfried Rault and Arnaud Régnier-Loilier reveal how young people today experience their first cohabiting relationship, and look at how behaviours have changed over time.

The ÉPIC survey of individual and conjugal trajectories (Étude des parcours individuels et conjugaux, 2013-2014) confirms that many of the recent observed trends in conjugal behaviours are continuing, with some changes along the way. Fewer and fewer couples are opting for marriage, and age at marriage is still increasing. Age at first union is levelling off, however. While in the past, both members of a couple were already working when they moved in together, today, in one-quarter of cases, the man is working and woman is still a student. A quarter of first unions are with a partner who has already been in a cohabiting relationship.

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