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Arland Thornton photo

Changing Attitudes toward Marriage and Single Life

Publication Abstract

Thornton, Arland, and D. Freedman. 1982. "Changing Attitudes toward Marriage and Single Life." Family Planning Perspectives, 14(6): 297-303.

Attitudes about the primacy of marriage as a way of life have changed markedly over the past two decades. The legitimacy of singleness as a life-style is increasingly recognized by young people and their parents; most Americans no longer regard getting married as necessarily better than remaining single and do not disapprove of those who eschew marriage. Although most young people interviewed in the 1980 Study of American Families say that they would be bothered at least a little by failure to marry, relatively few say they would be greatly bothered by that outcome. It is somewhat surprising that the mothers of these young people also report fairly evenhanded attitudes regarding marriage for their children, suggesting that the younger generation will probably not experience much parental pressure to marry.

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