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Journal Article

Expectations for family transitions in young adulthood among the UK second generation


Publication date



This paper explores whether family transitions among descendants of post second-world-war immigrants are converging towards those of white British young adults by examining family formation expectations among 16-21 year-olds collected within the 2009-2015 waves of Understanding Society. The paper asks: Do current adolescents? cohabitation, marriage and parenthood expectations differ by ethnic group? Are differences similar for men and women? Are ethnic differences mediated by individual or parental socio-economic characteristics? We find that expectations for marriage and parenthood are unanimously high, but that there is greater uncertainty among white British and black Caribbean adolescents as to the age at which these transitions will occur. We find large ethnic differences in expectations for cohabitation, especially for women. There is evidence for a divergence in expectations within the south-Asian community. Second-generation Indians have lower expectations for marriage and higher expectations for cohabitation than second-generation Bangladeshis or Pakistanis. Ethnic group differences remain when religiosity, parental background and individual characteristics are controlled. Further research is required regarding the mechanisms which underlie the differential transmission of family formation attitudes across ethnic minority groups.

Published in

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Volume and page numbers

46 , 913 -935





Demography, Migration, Young People, Households, Family Formation And Dissolution, and Ethnic Groups


Open Access; This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.; Special Issue: Ethnic Diversity in the UK: new opportunities and changing constraints

Related publications

  1. UK second generation young adults’ expectations for living together, marriage and parenthood

    Ann Berrington

    1. Demography
    2. Migration
    3. Young People
    4. Households
    5. Family Formation And Dissolution
    6. Ethnic Groups


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