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Factors such as secularization, increased participation of women in the labor force, changing in the meaning of marriage, risk reduction, individualism, and changing views on sexuality have been cited as contributing to these social changes.There has also been a change in modern sexual ethics, with a focus on consent, rather than marital status (i.e.Cohabitation is an arrangement where two or more people are not married but live together.They often involve a romantic or sexually intimate relationship on a long-term or permanent basis.The fact that many couples choose to live together without formalizing their relation is also recognized by the European Union.
For instance, in the European Values Study (EVS) of 2008, the percentage of respondents who agreed with the assertion that "Marriage is an outdated institution" was 37.5% in Luxembourg, 35.4% in France, 34.3% in Belgium, 31.2% in Spain, 30.5% in Austria, 29.2% in Germany, 27.7% in Switzerland, 27.2% in Bulgaria, 27.0% in the Netherlands, 25.0% in Slovenia.
Historically, many Western countries have been influenced by Christian doctrines on sex, which opposes unmarried cohabitation.
As social norms have changed, such beliefs have become less widely held by the population and some Christian denominations today view cohabitation as a precursor to marriage.
Opponents of cohabitation say non-marital parenting is an unsuitable environment for a child's development.
One study from 2002 correlated lower numeracy skills and higher delinquency to children of cohabiting couples, however, recent studies that control for factors including poverty, the educational level of parents and violence in the home show children of cohabiting couples are developmentally similar to peers of comparable married couples.