Family structure and the risk of a premarital birth

L. L. Wu, B. C. Martinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The positive association between growing up in a nonintact family and the risk of a first premarital birth has been interpreted by researchers as consistent with three hypotheses: a childhood socialization hypothesis, a social control hypothesis, and an instability and change hypothesis. Although these hypotheses imply distinct behavioral mechanisms, adjudicating between them has proven difficult, in part because researchers have relied on static measures of family structure. We use data from the National Survey of Families and Households and continuous-time hazard models to investigate the effects on premarital births of dynamic family measures that reflect a woman's family situation between birth and age 19. Our findings are consistent with the instability and change hypothesis, but provide little support for the socialization hypothesis and the social control hypothesis. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-232
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican sociological review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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