The Age of Independence, Revisited: Parents and Interracial Union Formation Across the Life Course

Xing Zhang, Sharon Sassler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Romantic relationships that cross racial lines have grown since anti-miscegenation laws were deemed unconstitutional. In The Age of Independence, Rosenfeld argued that parental influence over children's mate selection processes had waned. Rosenfeld, however, was not able to test this supposition directly because of his reliance on cross-sectional census data. Using Waves I and III of Add Health for a cohort of individuals from 1994 to 2002, we examine whether parents matter in shaping their offspring's romantic attachments, by exploring whether adolescent reports of maternal closeness and parental control are associated with youth's likelihood of being in an interracial relationship in emerging adulthood. We find that parental factors do influence emerging adults’ romantic relationships; these associations vary by race, ethnicity, and gender. Among white men, maternal closeness in adolescence reduces the likelihood of being in an interracial relationship in emerging adulthood. Parental control elevates the odds of being in an interracial relationship among black and Hispanic women. We also find that parental decisions on where families live shape offspring's choices, as relative exogamous group size in adolescence is associated with interracial union formation in later life. Our findings suggest that parental influence remains salient in the partner choices made by emerging adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-385
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Forum
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • emerging adulthood
  • interracial relationships
  • mate selection
  • parent-child relationships
  • race and ethnicity
  • transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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