Wellington, June 11 : Live-in relationship has become a dominant part of the cultural landscape in New Zealand and some other Western nations, according to a global study published in the United States.
Led by the Rutgers the state university of New Jersey, the National Marriage Project study said that New Zealand had made the biggest jump among the 12 nations it surveyed in terms of 'cohabitors' as a percentage of all couples, rising from 14.9 percent in 1996 to 23.7 percent in 2006.
The study reported on the university's website said, "There have been sharp percentage increases between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s in the number of couples that are cohabiting,"
These increases included rises ranging from 23 percent in Italy, 26 percent in France, 37 percent in German, 48 percent in Australia, 59.1 percent in New Zealand.
The study showed that the rise in the US, between 1995 and 2005, was 49 percent, but that increased the percentage from only 5.1 percent to 7.6 percent.
Sweden had the lowest marriage rate, 20 percent, an increase of 16 percent over the decade to 2005, reports the NZPA.
David Popenoe, study author, said that the US was 'still the most marrying of all these countries' but there was a rising acceptability of live-in arrangements, probably partly due to the example of celebrities such as Hollywood stars.
The researchers found that across the 13 nations, marriages per 1000 unmarried women had declined over time, with New Zealand slumping the most, by 41 percent from 42.7 in 1991 to 24.8 in 2006.
The USA fell by 19.9 percent from 1995 to 2005, down to 40.7 per 1000, but marriages in Australia declined by only 4.3 percent to 32 per 1000 unmarried women over 15.
Kelly Raley, sociologist from University of Texas-Austin, told USA Today newspaper: "We often think of cohabitation as a phenomenon of young adulthood before people start having kids, but ... as marriage is being delayed to later and later ages, more children are born before marriage, and many of the couples are cohabiting before the birth."
She suggested living together was not a marriage alternative, but an option to address issues of economic or relationship uncertainty.