Follow us
Publications Commentary Research People Events News Resources and Videos About IFS
Home Publications Cohabitation, marriage and child outcomes

Cohabitation, marriage and child outcomes


It is well known that children born to married parents achieve better outcomes, on average, both at school and in terms of their social and emotional development, than children born into other family forms, including into cohabiting unions. This Commentary documents in some detail how children's cognitive and social development differs between married and cohabiting parents, and provides a preliminary assessment of the extent to which such differences might be due to a causal effect of marriage itself. In so doing, it aims to inform a policy debate on the merits of encouraging individuals to enter marriage before they bear children, which has intensified in the run-up to the forthcoming general election.

Find out more

Journal article | Child and Family Law Quarterly
In this article we assess whether there are differences in early measures of cognitive and socio-emotional development between children born to cohabiting and married couples, and if so, whether marriage is the cause of these differences.
Press release
Young children's cognitive or social and emotional development does not appear to be significantly affected by the formal marital status of their parents, according to a new report from IFS researchers.