The Marital Desires of Young Adults

Jeremy E. Uecker, University of Texas at Austin

Social scientists rarely explore the marital desires of young adults, and when they do the focus tends to be on the desire to eventually marry, rather than a desire to be married in the present. This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N=11,355) to explore the prevalence of, and contexts that foster, the desire to be married among young adults. I further explore a cultural reason that young adults do not marry even when they want to: the belief that marriage is only appropriate following career establishment. The results suggest a significant minority of never-married young adults actually want to be married, but most of them would not marry if given the opportunity before working full time for a period. Variations in these attitudes are discussed, as are their implications for our understanding of the transition to adulthood, marriage-promotion policies, and marriage in general.

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Presented in Poster Session 5