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Marriage Among African Americans: What Does the Research Reveal?

Abstract

The research reveals that African Americans are the least likely to marry, when they marry, they do so later and spend less time married than White Americans, and they are the least likely to stay married. Factors contributing to the marriage status of African Americans include structural, cultural, individual and interactive factors. Structural factors include the disparity in sex ratios between African American males and females and employment instability among African American males. Cultural factors include changing cultural trends such as marriage not being a perquisite for sex, the independence of women, the shift from familism to individualism, cohabitation as an increasing option, and the promotion of the values of materialism and patriarchy through popular culture. Individual factors stem from an internalization of cultural values that affects people’s perceptions of marriage and their expectations of potential mates, their willingness to commit to a relationship that can lead to marriage, and, once they marry, their willingness to sustain the marriage through the challenges it will face. Added to this is the fact that, until recent federal funding in 2006, there was little or no education to help couples sustain relationships to marriage or sustain the marriage after they are married. In addition, all members of US society are expected to conform to the dominant group’s idea of the monogamous, nuclear family. This forces those who opt for other life styles e.g., gay and lesbian, polygynous, etc., to stay in cohabitating relationships. All of these factors contributes to African Americans being less likely to marry and more likely to divorce.

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Dixon, P. Marriage Among African Americans: What Does the Research Reveal?. J Afr Am St 13, 29–46 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12111-008-9062-5

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Keywords

  • Marriage
  • Family
  • Black marriage
  • African American marriage
  • African American family
  • African American marriage and families
  • African American relationships