When Do Family Formation Intentions Emerge? Evidencing Distinctness among Early Adolescent Youth

Jacinda K. Dariotis, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Using the NLSY79 and NLSY97, this study examines adolescents' expected adulthood parity and compares adolescents across intended parity categories to assess whether adolescents intending zero parity (voluntary childlessness) (a) differ from adolescents intending children in terms of marital goals, family formation values, parented experiences, and intention certainty; and (b) typologically resemble willingly childless adults regarding individual characteristics (e.g., attitudes, goals, demographics). Statistical tests confirmed these hypotheses. Findings verify (1) voluntary childlessness intentions emerge in adolescence (as early as age 14), (2) the prevelance of youth intending childlessness greatly increases over one generation’s time, and (3) a sizable proportion of youth expect to never marry. This paper highlights implications of increasing intended childlessness prevalence rates and expected permanent singlehood. Most importantly, this study contributes to our empirical knowledge of intended alternative family forms in an understudied population of persons who will constitute an increasing proportion of adults foregoing parenthood and marriage in current and future generations.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Children and Youth, Adolescence, Parenting, Transition to Adulthood, Life Course