Racial Differences in Marital Outcomes among Unmarried Mothers: The Influence of Perceived Marital Benefits and Expectations

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Family formation in American society increasingly begins with a birth. Given the important benefits that married, biological parents have for children it is important to examine marriage formation among unmarried parents. The present study investigates the influence that perceived marital benefits and marital expectations have on marriage formation among unmarried mothers with an examination of racial/ethnic differences. Large racial differences in perceived marital benefits and marital expectations were present. Black mothers perceived that marriage would be more beneficial than white mothers, but they did not expect that they would develop a marital relationship with their baby's father as often as white mothers. Perceptions and expectations were strong predictors of marriage among black, white and Hispanic mothers and were useful for explaining racial differences in marital outcomes. Positive expectations to marry increased the odds of marriage while positive perceptions of benefits decreased the likelihood of marriage.
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