Cross-Cohort Changes in Attitudes about Intimate Relationships: Growing Liberalization or Polarization?

Amanda J. Miller, Ohio State University

As once uncommon behaviors become more mainstream, their meaning and significance may change. This paper explores whether young adults' views of marital permanency, cohabitation, and adolescent sexuality have changed in the past few decades. Data are from waves 1 and 3 of the National Survey of Families and Households. We examine individuals who are single, cohabiting, and married at the time they were interviewed. Married couples are disaggregated into those who did and did not cohabit with their spouse. Preliminary results reveal growing liberalization towards living together, though young adults coming of age in the early years of the 21st century also express more conservative views regarding marital permanency and teen non-marital sexuality. Current cohabitors express the most liberal views at both time periods, while those who married without first cohabiting adhere to the most conservative attitudes. We find evidence of increasing polarization of family views.

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Presented in Session 105: Ideational Factors in Family Behavior and Change