Living together: Young couples in de facto relationships


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Content type
Research report

August 1986

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A comparison of estimates from various sources suggests a phenomenal increase in de facto relationships in Australia since 1970. Recent trends and general patterns of living together are reviewed, and the paper then draws on information contained in the Institute of Family Studies Australian Family Formation Project survey to examine important aspects of informal relationships in Australia today - why a growing number of Australian couples have chosen to live together rather than to marry, whether there are significant economic and social differences between the group which chooses de facto relationships and the group which chooses legal marriage. It also considers the experience itself, and brief details are given relating to unmarried couples and children.


  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • 1 Methodology
    • Sampling procedures
    • AFF Project survey questionnaire
  • 2 The Demographic Perspective
    • Recent trends
    • Demographic characteristics
    • Australia and United States compared
  • 3 Social and Economic Characteristics
    • Birthplace and present residence
    • Education and religion
    • Joint characteristics of unmarried partners
    • Economic status and work history
  • 4 Personal History and Attitudes
    • Leaving home
    • Attitudes to sex roles in marriage
    • Attitudes to living together compared with marriage
    • Attitudes to being single
  • 5 The Possibility of Marriage
  • 6 The De Facto Relationship
  • 7 Unmarried Couples and Children
  • 8 Conclusions
  • List of References
  • Appendix Additional Tables and Figures
  • Institute of Family Studies - Original Data Collection
  • Australian Family Formation Project

The Australian Family Formation Project team comprised D.E. Edgar, H. Glezer, C. Kilmartin, P. McDonald, A. Prolisko, D.E. Stewart, D. Storer and T. Tremayne


Khoo, S. (1986). Living together: Young couples in de facto relationships (Working Paper No. 10). Melbourne: Institute of Family Studies.