Any relationship is a complex phenomenon influenced by many factors including structure, material resources, the external environment and the relational skills and capacities of the participants. Specific policy responses need to be informed by robust understanding of causality of outcomes, as well as the effectiveness and appropriateness of different mechanisms of influence. The next briefing paper in this series explores a more comprehensive approach to family proofing public policy. Here we note the differences between the private choice of cohabitation and the public commitment of marriage, and the significant differences in outcomes that are associated with these different structures.
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