Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Timing Preferences for Women's Family-Life Transitions: Intergenerational Transmission among Migrants and Dutch

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Timing Preferences for Women's Family-Life Transitions: Intergenerational Transmission among Migrants and Dutch

Article excerpt

This study examines the transmission of preferences regarding the timing of family-life transitions of women among migrant and native Dutch families. We study how and to what extent parental preferences, migrant origin, and family characteristics affect the child's timing preferences. We use parent and child data (N = 1,290) from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (2002, 2003) and the Social Position and Provisions Ethnic Minorities Survey (2002). Regression analyses reveal that parental timing preferences regarding family-life transitions are strongly associated with the timing preferences of their children. Analyses also show that these preferences strongly vary by migrant origin, educational level, and religious involvement. The process of intergenerational transmission, however, is found to be very similar among migrants and Dutch.

Key Words: adolescents, age norms, intergenerational transmission, life course, migrants, socialization.

An extensive literature shows the importance of intergenerational transmission of family-related attitudes. Parents are known to influence, among other things, sexual attitudes (Thornton & Camburn, 1987), family formation attitudes (Axinn & Thornton, 1993; Trent & South, 1992), attitudes toward divorce (Amato, 1996), attitudes regarding fertility (Barber, 2001; Musick, 2002), and gender attitudes (Cunningham, 2001; Moen, Erickson, & Dempster-McClain, 1997). Parental socialization is identified as a key mechanism through which intergenerational consistency in attitudes and preferences occurs (Acock & Bengtson, 1980; Glass, Bengtson, & Dunham, 1986; Starrels & Holm, 2000; Thomson, 1992). Although intergenerational transmission is well documented for native (White) families, much less is known about the intergenerational transmission process among immigrants and their children from non-Western countries (hereafter called migrant families) (for exceptions, see Blee & Tickamyer, 1995; Hogan & Kitagawa, 1985). This is unfortunate for several reasons. First, the population in many Western countries includes substantial numbers of migrant families. Increasing our understanding of the factors that predict the formation of preferences among adolescent children with different migrant backgrounds is even more important, as a growing share of children making the transition to adulthood will have a migrant background. second, it is unclear whether intergenerational transmission of preferences is equally strong and operates in the same way among migrant families as among the native population. A specific feature of socialization in migrant families is that first-generation parents have mainly been brought up with the norms and preferences predominant in their countries of origin. Often, the norms and preferences that are dominant in the country of origin of migrants contrast with those predominant in the country of destination. As a result, migrant children are exposed both to parental preferences regarding family formation and to preferences prevalent in the country of settlement during their formative years at school and with peers (Nauck, 2001). It is largely unknown what implications this has for the strength of intergenerational transmission.

This article explores intergenerational transmission of preferences for the timing of transitions in the family-life domain. Leaving the parental home, getting married, and having children constitute important transitions in the life course of many young adults (Heckhausen, 1999; Jansen & liefbroer, 2001). We examine how and to what extent migrant and Dutch parents influence their children's preferred timing of these three transitions. Studying the preferred timing of family-life transitions is important because preferences are found to have a major influence on future family formation choices, which has clear consequences for young adults (Barber, Axinn, & Thornton, 2002; Hogan, 1986; Settersten, 1997). …

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