Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Janet R. Hankin


The purpose of this dissertation was to assess the unique socio-demographic positions of Black and White Americans related to variations in marital attitudes and marital status and differences in sex. The study was guided by two research aims: 1.) to assess whether socio-demographic factors were related to racial variations in marital attitudes of Blacks and Whites and if the relationships differ by race and sex and 2.) to assess whether socio-demographic factors were differentially associated with marital status of Black and White Americans and if they varied by race and sex. The study drew on individual-level, nationally representative, cross-sectional, 2010 Changing American Family Survey data with a sample of Black (N=474) and White (N=1852) Americans. This study’s assessment of the relationship between sociodemographic factors and marital attitudes of Blacks and Whites, made three contributions to marriage and family literature. First, “individualistic” rather than “familistic” marital attitudes were more pronounced among Black and White women versus Black and White men. When organizing their adult lives, Black and White women no longer considered marriage a priority. Second, analyses revealed that by 2010, a preference for traditional sex roles related to marriage and family remained strong among White men, but lost importance among White women. Third, in contrast to White Americans, social location was not associated with marital attitudes related to sex-roles or family structure for Black women or Black men. Participation in hegemonic marriage and family models could be subject to the lived experiences of Black Americans. By 2010, economic resources and race played significant roles in marital behavior of Blacks and Whites. Blacks and Whites with more resources were more likely to be married, suggesting that social location may influence marital behavior. By 2010, marriage became an institution reflective of America’s growth in economic inequality. The unique social positions of Black and White women and men may contribute to differences in marital outcomes. A preference was found for the current institution of marriage among married Blacks and Whites. Attitudes about traditional marital sex-roles and family structure were not indicative of marriage for Blacks.