Marital Perceptions of Single Low-Income African American Mothers as Determinants of Family Formation Structure and Outlook

Tiffanye Sledge

Because of the high proportions of African American children born to single mothers, the cumulative population of women and children at risk for negative outcomes associated with single motherhood continues to increase. I contend that single, low-income African American mothers perceive that there are fewer gains to marriage than there are losses to remaining single. Preliminary results consistently indicate that the mother’s earnings were negatively associated with perceptions of marriage, with the opposite effect relative to the earnings of the father. Cohabiting mothers had more favorable perceptions of the benefits of marriage for children, but not for themselves as it relates to financial security. While paternal educational attainment was negatively related to maternal perceptions of marriage, maternal educational attainment had a positive effect. Positive predictors of marital union and expected marital union included increases in perceived financial security, having older children outside of the focal romantic relationship, and paternal earnings.

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Presented in Session 51: One Parent Families