Social Class, Social Roles, Perceived Stress, and Marital Expectations among Cohabiting Young Adults

Angelika Gulbis, Madison Area Technical College

Working-class cohabitors often wish to form romantic unions but lack the resources to transition to marriage. These cohabitors take on social roles (parent, worker, and student); past research suggests these enhance well-being. However, contemporary young adult cohabitors may experience stress from juggling several social roles at once and outside the context of marriage, which may in turn interfere with plans to marry. Drawing upon life course theory and the Stress Process Model, data from the fourth wave of Add Health is used to examine how social class, social roles, stress, and marital expectations are interrelated among a sample of young adult cohabitors aged 24-32. Findings indicate that middle-to-upper class cohabitors have higher odds of expectations to marry and score significantly lower on stress compared to working-class and poor cohabitors. Although working-class and poor cohabitors experience stress similarly, stress is related to marital expectations to a greater extent for working-class cohabitors.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Health of Women, Children, and Families