Russian consensual unions in the early XXI century (Based on the international comparative study data)


  • Olga G. ISUPOVA National Research University Higher School of Economics



partnership, unregistered marriage, marriage legislature, comparative studies, consensual unions


The article considers the results of the Russian part of the international comparative study of unregistered unions and cohabiting fertility considered more attractive than the registered marriage. The study was carried out via focus groups methodology using a plan common for all participating countries (Russia, Great Britain, Poland, Norway, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Germany, and Australia). The study revealed that there is an old tradition of cohabitation (consensual union) in Russia chosen as a form of the second partner`s union in case the first marriage or the first marriage divorce resulted in a failure. Russians are not well aware of the matrimonial law and do not know their duties and responsibilities in an unregistered marriage. People get attracted by distant relationships, a lack of strong ties, higher degree of freedom even if certain guarantees and stability in relationship may be lost. Similar transformations are apparent in other countries; in some of them they are more pronounced (Norway, Australia), in others they are not too strong due to religious norms (Poland, Italy). What is important is law socio-economic status of partners in consensual unions that hampers marriage registration if one partner is lacking a stable job and the other wants to be free and is pursuing individual goals. We can assume that the liberalization of matrimonial relations in Russia has greatly affected both the less and the more prosperous (in terms of income and education levels) segments of society.