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Normative Beliefs About Marriage and Cohabitation : A Comparison of Non-Latino Whites, Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans.

Publication Year: 
Personal Author: 
Oropesa, R. S.
Journal Article
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Contemporary research on union formation in the United States largely focuses on how economic deprivation impinges upon union formation decisions by race. Union formation among specific Latino subgroups, particularly Mexican Americans, is relatively understudied. Mexican Americans are of special interest because they exhibit marriage behavior similar to that of non-Latino Whites, and have a relatively precarious economic existence. This directs attention to the normative foundations of marriage. Using the 1987-88 National Survey of Families and Households, this research examines normative beliefs about marriage and cohabitation among non-Latino Whites, Mexican Americans, and mainland Puerto Ricans. The results indicate that Mexican Americans tend to be more pronuptial than non-Latino Whites. They evaluate marriage more positively relative to singlehood, and marriage intentions significantly boost their approval of cohabitation. The former is particularly evident among the foreign born. Such differences cannot be explained fully by socioeconomic background or beliefs about nonmarital sex and childbearing. Puerto Ricans are least disapproving of cohabitation in the absence of plans to marry, primarily because of their beliefs about nonmarital sex and childbearing. (Author abstract)

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