Moving Out and Marriage

What Do Young Adults Expect?

by Calvin Goldscheider, Frances K. Goldscheider


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Living independently before marriage is part of a broader pattern of family and demographic change characterizing modern societies since World War II. This paper, which originally appeared in The American Sociological Review, v. 52, April 1987, examines expectations about premarital residential independence among young adults and is based on data from a survey of the high school class of 1980. That about 70 percent of young adults surveyed expect to move out of the parental home before marriage suggests that new norms are emerging which fit into patterns of independence in the transition to adulthood. There is substantial variation in factors affecting expectations about premarital residential independence. Young men more than young women, those with more parental resources, those who expect to marry at older ages, and those who do not have ethnic and religious ties that link them to their parental home until marriage expect to live independently. Religious, racial, and ethnic differences interact in complex ways with gender and socioeconomic status to influence expectations about premarital residential independence.

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