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Family Life-Cycle Transitions: Longitudinal Effects on Family Members

Steven L. Nock
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 43, No. 3 (Aug., 1981), pp. 703-714
DOI: 10.2307/351770
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/351770
Page Count: 12
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Family Life-Cycle Transitions: Longitudinal Effects on Family Members
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Abstract

This research sought to describe the individual consequences of six types of family transitions. Transitions into and out of marriage, (remarriage, divorce, widowhood, and first marriage) and changes in parental status (birth of first child in 10 years, birth of additional child in 5 years), were used as family transitions. Self assessments on 10 subjective aspects of life were considered as possible consequences of such transitions. A national sample of approximately 1,500 adults was followed for approximately 5 years. Personal interviews with these individuals were conducted at the beginning and the end of the study. Regression analysis was employed to explain changes in subjective evaluations of life from the beginning to the end of the study using the family transitions as independent variables. Controls were introduced for age, sex, race, and education. The research showed that certain family transitions affect subjective evaluations of life. While the effects were generally modest, all but one were negative, suggesting that transitions are experienced as challenging and, perhaps, unpleasant events. Most important were transitions out of marriage, although widowhood was less consequential than had been expected. Changes in parental status had only trivial effects. These results are explained within the context of research by others investigating similar issues and an explanation for the subtle effects found is offered.

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