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Journal Article

Racial and Ethnic Differences in Girls' Sexual, Marital, and Birth Expectations

Patricia L. East
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 60, No. 1 (Feb., 1998), pp. 150-162
DOI: 10.2307/353448
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353448
Page Count: 13
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Racial and Ethnic Differences in Girls' Sexual, Marital, and Birth Expectations
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Abstract

This study examines potential racial and ethnic differences in early adolescent girls' desired and perceived normative role timing and the extent to which various socioeconomic and family factors and school and job aspirations might be linked with girls' role-timing expectations. Using a racially and ethnically diverse sample, (n = 574; 183 Hispanics, 177 Blacks, 93 Whites, and 70 Southeast Asians; M age = 12.9), results indicated that young women of different races and ethnicities saw their life course unfold in different sequences based on different timetables and independent of their socioeconomic circumstances. Hispanics desired rapid transitions at a young age, and Southeast Asians desired more gradual transitions at an older age. Blacks perceived the greatest likelihood of nonmarital childbearing for themselves, the longest normative interval between first sex and first birth, but they desired the shortest interval between first marriage and first birth. Within-race regressions revealed that girls' future aspirations were important for their expected role timing, even within the context of socioeconomic disadvantage (welfare receipt, low family income). Findings suggest the importance of culture-specific age norms for motivating role timing and role sequencing in young women's lives.

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