Bernardo M. Villegas
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Socio-Economic Ills Resulting From Cohabitation

           I have heard Human Resource Managers expressing concern for the increasing number of their employees who are in live-in relationships with their respective partners without the benefit of marriage.  The most obvious business complication is that without a marriage certificate, there are legal obstacles to obtaining economic and other benefits, such as those associated with social security, housing and other welfare programs for employees.  This became especially obvious to me when a friend of mine, an expat who is the CEO of  a large manufacturing operation in Sta. Rosa, Laguna (about 12,000 employees) asked a Catholic chaplain for advice on how to arrange for a mass Catholic wedding for his workers who are cohabiting with their respective partners.  This friend of mine is not even a Christian and as far as I know practices no religion.  But his common sense told him that those workers of his who are in live-in relations with their partners are more susceptible to behavioural instability and lack of loyalty to any organization. 

          What this friend of mine saw from a sharp instinct about human behaviour has been scientifically corroborated by a study of the American College of Pediatricians.  In a series of articles that appeared last May 2014, Patricia Lee June, MD, FP, wrote about the effects of parental cohabitation on the men and women involved and on the children that result from their living together.  She presented abundant empirical evidence demonstrating that although it may appear to be a practical, positive stepping stone to a healthy marriage, research indicates that living together before marriage (cohabitation) can bring significant harm to the relationship and the individuals involved.  Cohabitation makes it more likely that couples will break up, and more likely that they will divorce if they do get married.  Partners who cohabit are also more likely to be unfaithful than are married spouses, and are more likely to be violent toward the other partner.  These abnormal behaviour patterns have obvious repercussions on the effectiveness and productivity of workers within a business organization.  No wonder that even without a religious motives, human resource managers are doing their best to dissuade their employees from remaining in live-in situations and are following the example of my expat friend.

          Then there is the harmful effects on the children of cohabiting parents.  The risks to children include:  parental separation, step-parents, half-siblings, and step-siblings with increased internal family strife; induced death; death and disability due to prematurity and/or low birth weight including blindness, deafness, respiratory problems, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, dyslexia, and hyperactivity; poorer medical and dental care and nutrition, more missed school, and increased risk of behaviour problems, anxiety, depression, academic decline, and social relationship problems;  increased risk of child abuse; increase risks of physical injuries, disease, hospitalization, somatization, and early mortality; increased substance, alcohol and tobacco abuse; increased incidence of obesity, respiratory diseases, adolescent sexual activity and pregnancy (including increased risks of death and prematurity to the children of these adolescents); a higher risk of hypertension, asthma, and related disease, and narcotics-related disease; low socioeconomic attainment; poor subjective well-being; and increased marital problems and divorce; lower academic achievement and more involvement in both petty and serious crime; more poverty, high risk of being raped; and more teen sex, premarital parenthood, and divorce themselves, thus carrying on the negative consequences to the third and fourth generations.

            These empirical findings of the American College of Pediatricians should be reasons enough for pediatricians and others who care for children, adolescents and young people to always include information on the risks of cohabitation in their anticipatory guidance.  The American College of Pediatricians is a national medical association of licensed physicians and healthcare professionals who specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents.  The mission of the College is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being.  More information may be found in their website  For comments, my email address is