The influence of parents’ marital dissolutions on children’s attitudes toward family formation

Abstract

We investigate the influence of parents’ marital dissolutions on their children’s attitudes toward several dimensions of family formation. Hypotheses focus on the role of parents’ attitudes as a mechanism linking parents’ behavior to their children’s attitudes. We test these hypotheses using intergenerational panel data that include measures of parents’ attitudes taken directly from parents and measures of children’s attitudes taken directly from children. Results demonstrate strong effects of parental divorce, remarriage, and widowhood on children’s attitudes toward premarital sex, cohabitation, marriage. childbearing, and divorce. The results also show that parents’ own attitudes link their behavior to their children’s attitudes, although substantial effects of parental behavior remain after controlling for parents’ attitudes.

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Correspondence to William G. Axinn.

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An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1994 annual meetings of the American Sociological Association, held in Los Angeles. The authors wish to thank the National Science Foundation (Grant SES-9257724) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant UO1 HD30928-01) for their financial support of this research. We wish to thank Jennifer Barber for her assistance with analyses reported here and her helpful comments on the manuscript. We also thank Kazuo Yamaguchi for his helpful answers to statistical questions. Finally, we would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. Any errors or omissions remain the responsibility of the authors alone.

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Axinn, W.G., Thornton, A. The influence of parents’ marital dissolutions on children’s attitudes toward family formation. Demography 33, 66–81 (1996). https://doi.org/10.2307/2061714

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Keywords

  • Family Formation
  • Parental Divorce
  • Marital Dissolution
  • Courtship Process
  • Marital Disruption