Paul McCartney wrote “When I’m 64” in 1966, just one year before then 21-year-old Roger Daltrey belted his ditty about age titled, “Hope I die before I get old” to a generation of young hippies and up-and-comers including many who smoked and joked about the latter at concerts but changed their minds somewhere down the line - maybe around the time they signed up for Social Security benefits. However, McCartney’s tune about love and growing old together with another person is more relevant than ever to the Woodstock generation. According to a fresh national poll, there has been a sharp increase in couples age 50 and older who are forgoing marriage as a prerequisite for their relationship.

The survey was conducted by Pew Research Center and published today with an analysis of its Current Population Survey.

Many reasons for increase

Due to the imbalance of government benefits vs. restrictions on single parents, the death of spouses, divorce, and the fade of stigma over cohabitation, the number of couples living together in the U.S. has jumped 75 percent, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census numbers. The government census supports Pew’s research that shows more of those hooking up without the benefit or constraints of a marriage license are from the Who Generation. Cohabitation among seniors is up 29 percent in less than two years, according to Pew.

Despite the increase in cohabitation among elders, most adults 50 years old and older are married despite a three-point decline over the past 10 years.

About 61% of this demographic were married in 2016, compared to 64% in the previous government census. Most respondents 50 and older were previously married, including a majority who are divorced (55%). About one-tenth of cohabiters, ages 50 and older (13%) are widowed – a share that rises to 27% among cohabiters 65 and older.

About one-fourth of cohabiters (27%) ages 50 and older have never been married.

Boomers not first generation to feel loneliness

Neil Young nailed it in his song titled, “Old Man”. In "Old man take a look at your life/I'm a lot like you", Young sees himself mirrored in an aging ranch hand. The classic boomer/rock ditty speaks of the hopes, desires, and fears that are part of the aging process.

Baby boomers are a particularly large generation partly because of loneliness, separation, and death endured by their parents during World War II. Perhaps it is that familiar fear of loneliness, an innate desire to share love, and the yearning for longevity their parents felt that is most responsible for the increase in cohabitation among boomers.

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