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Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults

Linda J. Waite, Frances Kobrin Goldscheider and Christina Witsberger
American Sociological Review
Vol. 51, No. 4 (Aug., 1986), pp. 541-554
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095586
Page Count: 14
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Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults
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Abstract

Young adults in recent cohorts have been leaving the parental home earlier and marrying later now than they did several decades ago, resulting in an increased period of independent living. This paper explores the consequences of time spent in non-family living, using data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Men and Young Women. We expect that experience in living away from home prior to marriage will cause young adults to change their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, and move them away from a traditional family orientation. We find strong support for this hypothesis for young women; those who lived independently became more likely to plan for employment, lowered their expected family size, became more accepting of employment of mothers, and more non-traditional on sex roles in the family than those who lived with their parents. Non-family living had much weaker effects on young men in the few tests that we could perform for them. The paper also addresses the conditions under which living away increases individualism, and it discusses the implications of these findings.

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