“Let’s live together first”: A longitudinal investigation into whether cohabitation is a precursor to marriage among young urban South Africans.

Nicole De Wet, Jeremy Gumbo


The prevalence of cohabitation is increasing globally. Often studied as an alternative to marriage, cohabitation practices are rarely studied as a precursor to marriage. In identifying if cohabitation is a step leading to marriage, we are better able to understand the popularity of this union type. Using longitudinal data from the Cape Area Panel Survey (CAPS 2002- 2006), this study examines if cohabitation is a precursor to marriage among youth in South Africa. Descriptive statistics and regression models are used. A sample of 7,305 youth in cohabiting relationships in 2002 was followed up. In 2006, only 87 of these youth reported being married. Cohabitation was found to produce lower odds (OR=0.21; p-value<0.05) of marriage in 2006. Females and unemployed youth were more likely to get married than males and employed youth in the study. Therefore, cohabitation is not a precursor to marriage among youth in the short-term. A longitudinal study with a longer duration is recommended as it is possible that this study is limited by the short duration between waves of data collection. 


cohabitation, youth, longitudinal, marriage, CAPS, South Africa

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11564/30-2-872


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