The Effects of Marriage and Partner Choice on Intergenerational Relationships

Jenjira Yahirun, University of Texas at Austin

Recent research indicates that when adult children marry, ties to parents weaken. Yet less is known about how partners’ characteristics affect intergenerational relationships. This paper uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N=9,663) to ask how marriage and race/ethnic intermarriage in particular are associated with ties to mothers. Findings confirm prior research that marriage is associated with increased geographic distance to mothers, although contact and emotional closeness between generations was the same for married and never married offspring. In addition, partner choice mattered more for some individuals than others. Intermarriage was associated with greater geographic distance among race/ethnic minorities, fewer visits among children of immigrants and less contact with mothers among daughters. Collectively, these results highlight how intermarriage, a mechanism thought to increase social ties and blur the boundaries between race/ethnic groups may in fact weaken ties to parents among those individuals involved.

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Presented in Session 100: Family Ties and Well-Being over the Life Course