American Women's Transition to Adulthood in Comparative Perspective

Elizabeth Fussell and Anne H. Gauthier

in On the Frontier of Adulthood

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780226748894
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226748924 | DOI:
American Women's Transition to Adulthood in Comparative Perspective

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This chapter compares the timing and prevalence of transitions to independent living and family formation to determine whether young people are rejecting family formation and to ascertain how social structures that vary among a set of countries may be contributing to differences in the transition to adulthood. It describes the transition to adulthood for women in the United States and compares it with that of women in countries with contrasting social, economic, and policy contexts. It uses data from the U.S. National Survey of Family Growth and comparable data from the Family and Fertility Surveys carried out in Canada, Germany, Italy, and Sweden to illustrate differences in the timing of adult transitions and the degree of adherence to a “traditional” pattern of family formation between cohorts and nations. The chapter compares these cohorts in terms of the timing of their acquisition of family statuses (leaving the parental home, cohabitation, marriage, and childbearing), the prevalence of these transitions within cohorts, and the combinations of statuses acquired by a given age.

Keywords: women; independent living; family formation; young people; social structures; United States; adulthood; adult transitions; cohabitation; marriage

Chapter.  11600 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociology

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