Marital and birth expectations of urban adolescents.

E. A. Smith, L. S. Zabin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The formation of attitudes conducive to pregnancy prevention is usually included in the development of adolescent pregnancy prevention programs. This research examines the marital and birth expectations among 3646 adolescents enrolled in grades 7-12 in four inner city schools in 1981-82 in the US. The aim is to assess adolescents' perceptions of life experiences in their social environment, which reveal their beliefs about the social acceptability of birth after marriage. Two of the schools had entirely Black student populations, and two for comparison purposes had a mixed student population comprised of 33% Black students. Results reveal that Blacks reported a higher age for marriage and a lower age of first birth than Whites. Blacks had a lower mean ideal age of first birth than for marriage, while White had a lower mean age of marriage than for first birth. 59.1% of Black teenage females and 55% of Black teenage males reported a first birth ideal less than the marriage age, while 20.4% of White teenage females and 21.1% of White teenage males did so. A comparative graph shows Whites having in-wedlock births around 21 years of age and Blacks having in-wedlock births at 26 years of age. The analysis of the best age of marriage regressed on the best age at first birth indicates that the slopes are parallel, and there is no significant difference between Black and White attitudes. Blacks had an ideal marriage age of about two years later than Whites. In the comparison of survey responses to vital statistics data on legitimacy of first births in Baltimore in 1980, it appears that there is a close correspondence between actual out-of-wedlock status of first births and female adolescent attitudes. This study's findings suggest that both Blacks and Whites expect early births to be premarital and later births to be postmarital. Adolescent experiences affect their perceptions, and teenagers' perceptions are fairly realistic. The interpretation of findings is that Black-White differences reflect both macro-historical change and the microlevel community experiences of young people. Findings support Espenshade's historical analysis. Educational interventions should account for the facts that teenagers' ideal age for marriage is older than their projected ages of first births and that beliefs are influenced by community norms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-74
Number of pages13
JournalYouth and Society
Volume25
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1993

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adolescent
marriage
pregnancy
experience
student
female adolescent
historical analysis
school
community
legitimacy
school grade
statistics
interpretation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Smith, E. A., & Zabin, L. S. (1993). Marital and birth expectations of urban adolescents. Youth and Society, 25(1), 62-74.

Marital and birth expectations of urban adolescents. / Smith, E. A.; Zabin, L. S.

In: Youth and Society, Vol. 25, No. 1, 09.1993, p. 62-74.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Smith, EA & Zabin, LS 1993, 'Marital and birth expectations of urban adolescents.', Youth and Society, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 62-74.
Smith, E. A. ; Zabin, L. S. / Marital and birth expectations of urban adolescents. In: Youth and Society. 1993 ; Vol. 25, No. 1. pp. 62-74.
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