By Selena Hill ( | First Posted: Apr 04, 2013 09:40 PM EDT
Tags Marriage

The marriage of a Montana couple that ended in murder is now the subject of a police investigation. (Photo : REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)

Despite the traditional stigmas attached to "shacking up," a new study reveals that more American women are choosing to live with their partners before getting married.

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 percent of women are living with their significant other but not married to them.  This is a sharp jump over the from the last two decades.  In 2002, only 43 percent of women reported to live with their boyfriends while in 1995 35 percent of women choose to shack up.

"The United States has long had the shortest cohabiting relationships of any wealthy nation and now these relationships are lengthening," Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who was not involved in the study, said to USA Today.

On the other hand, only 23 percent of the women surveyed said they got married first before moving in. That number dropped from 30 percent in 2002 and 39 percent in 1995. The number of women who opted to live without a boyfriend or husband has remained around 27 to 29 percent since 1995.

Another study published last month by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and the RELATE Institute shows that the average age of marriage for women is now 26.5 years old and 28.7 years old for men.  That's up from 23 and 26 in 1990. In addition, 48 percent of  couples are having children out of wedlock.

The CDC surveyed 12,279 women between the ages of 15 and 44 about their relationships between 2006 and 2010.

74 percent of 30-year-olds said they had cohabited with a partner and 55 percent said they did it by the age of 25.

High school dropouts were most likely to move in with their boyfriend, with rates at 70 percent. Their numbers were followed by Latinas born in the U.S. and white women, which were at 65 and 57 percent respectively. Living together went up for all ethnic groups, except for Asian women.

Furthermore, couples are living together longer before getting married. On average, women lived with their significant other 22 months before getting married or breaking up. In 1995, couples living together waited only 13 months before exchanging vows. Three years later after moving together, 40 percent had gotten married and 32 percent of couples were still cohabiting, while 27 percent had broken up.

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