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Married Parents Happier with Family Life, Have Fewer Doubts Than Cohabiting Parents


March 14, 2019

OTTAWA – Canadian parents living together, but not married, report the lowest family life satisfaction in a new 11-country study. The Global Family and Gender Survey (GFGS) has found just 48 percent of Canadian cohabiting couples with kids under age 18 at home say they’re very satisfied with family life. That’s lower than such couples in France or Australia, and far lower than in the United Kingdom or United States. By contrast, 62 percent of Canadian married parents with kids at home say they’re very satisfied with family life.

The GFGS also found that more than one-third of Canadian cohabiting parents admit they’ve had serious doubts in the last 12 months that their relationship with their partner will last. Those doubts drop to just 22 percent among married parents. The study places Canadians in the middle of the pack in terms of relationship doubts. British, Mexican, American, and Australian cohabiting parents all had more doubts about the future, while counterparts in France, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina had fewer doubts.

“I’m glad the scholars at the Institute for Family Studies did this important research,” says Peter Jon Mitchell from think tank Cardus.  “Stability has a lot do with family life satisfaction. Marriage requires a declaration of commitment, and despite what we hear about divorce, common-law relationships are more prone to break up than marriages are.”

Meanwhile, according to newly released Statistics Canada data, of couples in a relationship lasting 30 years or more, almost eight in 10 are married. Just 22 percent are living common-law. While this points to the predominance of married partnerships, it also speaks to the stability of marriage.

“Great kids grow up in many types of families and family structure is not destiny,” says Mitchell. “However, there have been decades of research that indicate adults’ romantic partnership decisions affect the lives of their kids. There’s a well-established correlation between stable, married parent families and their kids doing better in school, as well as less likelihood of getting in trouble with the law or being involved in a teen pregnancy.”

The Institute for Family Studies produced the GFGS for its new report, Less Stable, Less Important.

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508