Effects of Childhood Family Structure on the Transition to Marriage

by Frances K. Goldscheider, Linda Waite

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Increasing rates of marital dissolution mean that many more children than in the past spend part of their childhood in single-parent families. This Note, reprinted from Journal of Marriage and the Family, November 1984, explores the effects of family structure during the teenage years on the likelihood of marriage later for both males and females. Using data from two national longitudinal surveys of young people, the analysis finds that childhood family patterns do influence the later family formation of the children involved. However, the experience of disruption of parental marriage affects sons and daughters and blacks and whites somewhat differently. The Note describes these patterns in detail and discusses their implications.

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