Premarital Life Plans during the Transition to Adulthood in the United States
Raquel Zanatta Coutinho, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
This paper investigates attitudes that never married young adults (ages 17-24) hold about what is important to accomplish before getting married. Using data from the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), I investigate how a range of socio-economic and demographic variables are related to a high degree of importance to particular achievements before marriage. I then provide in-depth narrative of premarital life-plans drawing on qualitative data from semi-structured interviews conducted with a subsample of NSYR survey respondents. As a result, the preparation for marriage is a diverse experience in which young adults form their strategies based on the combination and accumulation of three forms of capital: Human Capital, Identity Formation Capital, and Relationship Capital. The importance of each seems to be structured by important social institutions. Gender, religion, race/ethnicity, geographic location and family are schema-producing and help shaping what young adults think is necessary to be achieved before marriage.