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In Europe, the Scandinavian countries have been the first to start this leading trend, although many countries have since followed.
During the past decades, in Western countries, there has been an increase in unmarried couples cohabiting.
In Central and Eastern Europe, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were major political changes, such as the fall of Communist governments.
These societies entered a new era of increased social freedom, less rigid rules, and less authoritarian governments.
Such arrangements have become increasingly common in Western countries during the past few decades, being led by changing social views, especially regarding marriage, gender roles and religion.
The rise in cohabitation is part of other major social changes such as: higher divorce rate, older age at first marriage and childbearing, and more births outside marriage.
decriminalization of adultery and fornication; criminalization of marital rape), reflecting new concepts about the role and purpose of sexual interaction, and new conceptualizations of female sexuality and of self-determination.
For instance, in the European Values Study (EVS) of 2008, the percentage of respondents who agreed with the assertion that "Marriage is an outdated institution" was 37.5% in Luxembourg, 35.4% in France, 34.3% in Belgium, 31.2% in Spain, 30.5% in Austria, 29.2% in Germany, 27.7% in Switzerland, 27.2% in Bulgaria, 27.0% in the Netherlands, 25.0% in Slovenia.
has led to women making individual choices over their reproduction with decreased reliance on male partners for financial stability.
All these changes favored living arrangement alternatives to marriage.