INTERNATIONAL – In recent decades, much of the globe has witnessed a retreat from traditional marriage. This means more children are being born outside of marriage, either to single parents or cohabiting couples, in countries around the world.

This change in family structure is questioned and analyzed in the Institute for Family Studies’ most recent report (World Family Map) which monitors the health of the family around the globe.

The report raises two vital questions: Are such children less likely to enjoy stable family lives? Is the growth of non-marital childbearing, including the growth of childbearing within a cohabiting union, associated with more family instability for children at the national level?

In Europe and the United States, the study found that children born to cohabiting and especially single parents experience higher levels of family instability in the first 12 years of their lives.

Using data from 100 countries around the globe, the study also found that family instability is higher in countries where more children are born to single mothers and cohabiting couples.

National-level data from 68 countries showed that the growth of cohabitation is associated with increases in family instability in countries around the world. In other words, marriage seems to be associated with more family stability for children across much of the globe, whereas cohabitation is typically associated with more instability.

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