African American Family Life: Ecological and Cultural Diversity

By Vonnie C. McLoyd; Nancy E. Hill et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Marital Relationships
of African Americans
A Contextual Approach

Chalandra M. Bryant
and K. A. S. Wickrama

Only about 47% of the African American population in the United States is married, as compared with 81% of the White population, 82% of Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 69% of Latinos (Benokraitis, 2002; Smith, 2000). Moreover, African Americans are more likely to experience marital dissolution than any other racial/ethnic group (Benokraitis, 2002; Kposowa, 1998; Saluter, 1994; White, 1991). For example, 17% of marriages among White women are likely to dissolve by the end of 15 years, whereas almost half of the marriages among African American women are likely to dissolve by that time (Kposowa, 1998). Previous research suggests that the formation and maintenance of close social relationships in general, and romantic relationships in particular, are associated with emotional and physical well-being (House, Landis, & Umberson, 1988; Simon & Marcussen, 1999; Wickrama, Lorenz, Conger, & Elder, 1997). Given (1) the high divorce rate of African Americans and (2) the link between close relationships and emotional/physical health, in addition to (3) the health disadvantages experienced by African Americans (National Center for Health Statistics, 1998; Williams, Yu, Jackson, & Anderson, 1997), there is a pressing need to explore unique social circumstances experienced by African American couples

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