Marriage and Cohabitation

By Arland Thornton; William G. Axinn et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Influence of Parental Youth Factors before Birth of Study Child

As we discussed in chapter 1, union formation is an intergenerational process involving both young adults and their parents. In this chapter, we begin the task of evaluating the many factors in the parental generation influencing the entrance of young adults into cohabitation and marriage. Our focus concerns the parental explanatory factors from six substantive domains, each with several dimensions: (1) family organization; (2) family immigration and farm background; (3) parental socio-economic standing; (4) religion; (5) maternal marital experience; and (6) parental childbearing. We now discuss specific ways these dimensions of the parental family can influence young adult children directly as well as indirectly, through other factors in both the first and second generations.

We focus our analysis of parental influences on several dimensions of the union-formation process. First is the total union-formation rate that treats marriage and cohabitation as equivalent contrasts to being single (Conceptualization II from chapter 4). Second are the rates of entrance into marriage and cohabitation with each union status treated as an independent alternative to being single (Conceptualization III of chapter 4). The next dimension is the choice between marriage and cohabitation for those entering a union (Conceptualization IV of chapter 4). In addition, we consider the rate of transformation of cohabiting relationships into marriages (Conceptualization V of chapter 4).

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