Cohabitation in the U.S. has Doubled Since the Mid-1990s

A recent study by the Pew Research Center titled "Living Together: The Economics of Cohabitation," finds that rates of cohabitation in the U.S. have gone up significantly over the last 15 years. Authors Richard Fry and D’Very Cohn use census data from heterosexual couples who (unlike many of their homosexual counterparts) have a choice between getting married, or simply living together unmarried. Fry and Cohn write:

Cohabitation is an increasingly prevalent lifestyle in the United States. The share of 30- to 44-year-olds living as unmarried couples has more than doubled since the mid-1990s. Adults with lower levels of education—without college degrees—are twice as likely to cohabit as those with college degrees.

Perhaps you already guessed that - the pressure to get married isn’t quite the same as it was 50 years ago. What’s more interesting though is that the level of education makes a big difference as to how the median household income of cohabiters measures up against their married counterparts.

The Comparative Advantage Juice

We came close to overturning comparative advantage last night with our new juice-squeezer. Using it requires peeling the oranges, which involves rolling them around, making two circumferential cuts, and then stripping the flesh out. Only then can the flesh be thrown in the squeezer. After doing this together, my wife announced that I was so incompetent that the elapsed time in the first three steps would be less if she did everything and I watched. What she really meant was, "Daniel, your marginal productivity is very low! (But it wasn't negative: I was able to put the oranges in the squeezer, but she could have done that too, and the "assembly line" would have moved faster.)

How many household production activities are there where even the second cook “spoils the broth”?

The Rise of the "Dual-Master Bedroom"?

This statistic seems unbelievable to me on a few dimensions, but it is still worth thinking about:

The National Association of Homebuilders predicts that by 2015, 60% of new homes will be designed with "dual master bedrooms."

From a CNN.com article called "Options for Your Mediocre Marriage." One option:

If it's possible, consider separate bedrooms. You'd be surprised how the creation of privacy and nonmarital spaces in a marriage might help. Already one in four Americans sleep in separate bedrooms or beds from their spouses.

Even if the 1 in 4 number is true (and that includes separate beds, not only bedrooms), I wonder how that translates into demand for a 60% supply of "dual masters."

Divorce as Campaign Strategy

From the Economist: "To avoide the dynasties that have misruled many Latin American countries, Guatemala’s constitution forbids relatives of the incumbent president and vice-president from running for high office. This clause had seemed to scotch the chances of Sandra Torres, the country’s ambitious first lady, becoming its first presidenta. But on March 21st she and her husband, Álvaro Colom, announced a novel way to sidestep the rules: they filed for divorce."

Joseph Stiglitz and Anya Schiffrin on Spousonomics

Power econ couple Joseph Stiglitz and Anya Schiffrin weigh in on Spousonomics, the new book on the economic side of marriage by journalists?Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson. Here’s Schiffrin, who describes Stiglitz as “very romantic,” explaining one of his comparative advantages: “One of the concepts they devote a lot of time to is comparative advantage, […]

Eyeballing the Forbidden Fruit

Ordering your significant other to ignore the attractive person at the next table might backfire, according to a new study.

Your Spousonomics Questions, Answered

Last week, we solicited your questions for Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, co-authors of the new book Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes.

Here are their answers, covering everything from sex to divorce to ... gulp ... apology. Thanks to all who participated, especially Paula and Jenny.

How Can Economics Improve a Marriage? Ask the Authors of Spousonomics

Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, a pair of journalists, are co-authors of the new book Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes. It sorts out optimal strategies for household chores (it's all about comparative advantage), paying the bills on time (find the right incentive!), and the "too-big-to-fail marriage."

Would You Take Marital Advice From an Economist?

Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, authors of the new book Spousonomics, are seeking marital advice from economists on their blog.

Do We Drink Because We're Monogamous, or Are We Monogamous Because We Drink?

Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called "Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better?" It features some research presented by the American Association of Wine Economists, whose members include Karl Storchmann, managing editor of the group's Journal of Wine Economics.

Storchmann wrote to us the other day about an interesting working paper the AAWE has just posted: "Women or Wine? Monogamy and Alcohol," by Mara Squicciarini and Jo Swinnen.