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More Americans Have a Negative View of Women Raising Children Alone and Premarital Cohabitation: New Study

Over 45% of White, Asian, and Black adults regarded single motherhood as bad for society


More Americans believe single women raising children alone and unmarried couples living together are bad for society compared to three years ago.

The change was documented in a Pew Research Center survey conducted in the fall of 2021.

While these views appear to vary across demographic lines, they are starkly divided by political ideology.

The number of people who see single women raising children alone as a negative for society in general increased by 7% in three years — climbing from 40% in October of 2018 to 47% in October of 2021.

Similarly, 19% of people considered couples living together before marriage to be bad for society in October 2018. During the 2021 survey, that number grew to 24%.

Asian and white participants in the survey were more likely to agree with the statement: 49% of each group responding that single women raising children alone is bad for society.

The significant number of black adults (46%) also agree with the statement. Hispanic adults were the least like to share this view of single women raising children alone.

Those surveyed who identified as a Democrat or Democrat-leaning were less likely (36%) to believe single motherhood was bad for society than Republicans and Republican-leaning participants (62%). Democrats or Democrat-leaning adults were most likely to believe the family situation did not make a difference.

The majority of all demographic groups expressed a more neutral view of premarital cohabitation. Approximately 62% of all adults said it does not make a difference

Men (26%) were more likely than women (23%) to regard couples living together before getting married as bad for society.

Black adults were more likely than any other racial group to view the practice negatively, with 32% regarding cohabitation is bad for society. White adults (25%) and Asian adults (24%) had a similar response to the question.

While 17% of Hispanic adults thought unmarried couples living together was bad for society, 19% maintained it was good for society. 

Adults ages 19-29 were the most likely to say it was good for adults to live together before getting married. Less than 20% of adults ages 30-49 agreed. Thirty-five percent of adults over the age of 65  were the most likely to regard premarital cohabitation as bad for society.

Political affiliation also indicated a respondent’s likely opinion on cohabitation. About 38% of Republicans and Republican-leaning adults saw the practice as a negative compared to the 6% that said it was positive.

More Democrats and Democrat-leaning adults (20%) saw couples living together before marriage as a good thing for society than those (13%) that opposed cohabitation.

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