Nonmarital pregnancies and marriage in the united states

Allan M. Parnell, Gray Swicegood, Gillian Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One important change in postwar American family-formation patterns has been a sharp decline in the probability that single women pregnant with their first child marry during their pregnancies and thus legitimate the birth. In this article we first discuss the social context surrounding this change. Our empirical analysis of four national cross-sectional fertility surveys covering the early 1950s through the late 1980s then documents the decreasing likelihood of legitimation for women from most racial, social, and family backgrounds. Finally, we use longitudinal data for recent cohorts of young women to investigate the attitudinal, familial, and scholastic factors that shape their decisions about legitimating a nonmarital pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-287
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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