Friend and peer effects on entry into marriage and parenthood: a multiprocess approach

Melinda Mills, University of Groningen
Nicoletta Balbo, Università Bocconi
Nicola Barban, University of Groningen

This paper aims to investigate whether friends’ and peers’ behavior influence and individual’s entry into marriage and parenthood during the transition to adulthood of young, U.S. adults. After first studying entry into marriage and parenthood as two independent events, we then examine them as interrelated processes, thereby considering them as two joint outcomes of an individual’s unique, underlying family-formation strategy. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we engage in a series of discrete time event history models to test whether the larger the number of friends and peers who get married (or have a child), the sooner the individual gets married (or has a child). Results show strong cross-friend effects on entry into parenthood, whereas entry into marriage is only affected by peer effects. Estimates of a multiprocess model show that cross-friend effects on entry into parenthood remain strongly significant even when we control for cross-process unobserved heterogeneity.

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Presented in Session 4: Family formation and transition to adulthood

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