A Cultural Reconciliation: Egalitarian Ideology and Marital Aspirations

Joanna Pepin, University of Maryland

I use data from Monitoring the Future (1976-2013) to evaluate trends in attitudes about marriage and ideal divisions of work and family labor. Marital expectations have increased over time for all youth. There is little change in questioning marriage as a way of life, but remarkable delay in ideal timing. Women consistently express more expectations of eventual marriage than men, though men are more likely to agree legal marriage leads to happier lives. Trends in desired divisions of labor differ primarily by race, not by gender. For all youth, the male breadwinner/female homemaker is still the most desired division of labor, but all other division of labor arrangements have increased in acceptability and desirability over time. I suggest the absence of a decline in marital aspirations is likely the consequence of a redefinition of marriage to incorporate gender flexible divisions of labor.

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 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households