The Courtship Process and Union Formation*

Arland Thornton, William G. Axinn and Yu Xie

in Marriage and Cohabitation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780226798660
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226798684 | DOI:
The Courtship Process and Union Formation*

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This chapter, which explores the influence of both parents and children during the years when the children are making decisions about union formation, considers the influence of the individual factors in equations that control for parental factors measured through age fifteen, but which do not control for later explanatory factors. It focuses on how the heterosexual experiences of the children during their adolescent years—specifically dating, going steady, and sexual initiation—are related to the timing of union formation and the choice between cohabitation and marriage. The chapter also considers the effects of both the timing of the initiation of these courtship experiences and the intensity and extensiveness of heterosexual relationships during late adolescence, and finally, investigates how pregnancies occurring before the initiation of residential unions influence entrance into marriage and cohabitation.

Keywords: parents; union formation; dating; going steady; sexual initiation; cohabitation; marriage; courtship; heterosexual relationships

Chapter.  10306 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Population and Demography

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