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The Divorce of Marriage and Childbearing: Changing Attitudes and Behavior in the United States

Deanna L. Pagnini and Ronald R. Rindfuss
Population and Development Review
Vol. 19, No. 2 (Jun., 1993), pp. 331-347
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/2938442
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2938442
Page Count: 17
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The Divorce of Marriage and Childbearing: Changing Attitudes and Behavior in the United States
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Abstract

The past 25 years have witnessed large-scale changes in the structure of American families. One of the most dramatic transformations has been the increasing separation of marriage and childbearing. One-quarter of all births now occur outside of marriage. Given that nonmarital fertility has historically been considered a social problem, how have Americans reacted to its increasing prevalence? Using data from four cross-sectional surveys undertaken between 1974 and 1989, the authors document that attitudes toward births outside of a marital relationship became increasingly permissive. They examine the social and demographic correlates of these attitudes and find that the structure of the determinants has not changed over time. The shift in attitudes was pervasive across social groups. They also present evidence on a concomitant change in attitudes toward a new gender-role orientation within two-parent families.

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