Adolescent Family Background and the Formation of the First Family Formation in Adulthood: Evidence from a Longitudinal Study
This study examines the association between adolescents' family backgrounds and their first union formation (marriage and cohabitation) from the ages of 16 to 35. This research additionally tests whether the influence of family processes varies by age. This study includes three aspects of family background, including, family structure, parental resources, and family process. Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 and Event History Analysis are used to address how the mechanisms of social learning and intergenerational transmission of advantages by parents affect the timing and types of first union formation. The results indicate that individuals with positive family backgrounds have lower risk of cohabitating during adolescence and is associated with higher chances of marriage in their mid-twenties and later. The positive quality of the relationship between parents decreases the chance of cohabitation between the ages of 16 to 25. Also, higher parental material resources increase the chance of forming the first marriage after the age of 25. The findings show positive family process during adolescence plays a vital role in postponing cohabiting before the age of 25, while it encourages the first marriage after mid-twenties. This study further shows that fathers have a substantial role to play in affecting the timing and types of first union formation of their children compared to mothers. The findings of this research suggest that family processes have a multidimensional nature and are important in the timing and type of first union formation among young people in the United States.