Union Formation Experiences, Cohort Change, and Attitudes towards Family and Work

Marin Clarkberg, Cornell University
Judith Rosenstein, Cornell University

Recent period changes in values and attitudes may reflect either or both the causes or consequences of changing family formation experiences. We examine the link between attitudes and family formation experiences over individual and historical time by drawing on data three decades: the 1970s (from the NLS-72), 1980s (from High School and Beyond), and the 1990s (from NELS:88), and focus on a series of items which follow from the lead in, "How important is each of the following to you?" Results suggest that marriage and cohabitation experiences cause important attitude changes, such that marriage - and sometimes cohabitation - increases the affinity to marriage and family institutions and to more gendered work roles. Further, results suggest that the effects of these union formation experiences have changed in important ways over time.

Presented in Session 54: The Implications of Social Change for Family Attitudes and Behaviors: An International Panel