See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Hispanics desired rapid transitions at a young age, and Southeast Asians desired more gradual transitions at an older age. Blacks perceived the greatest likelihood of nonmarital childbearing for themselves, the longest normative interval between first sex and first birth, but they desired the shortest interval between first marriage and first birth.
Although most individuals ultimately decide when to marry and when to begin childbearing, they are undoubtedly influenced by the socially prescribed norms for such transitions. For example, the different sexual, marital, and fertility patterns of Blacks and Whites have been well documented. These patterns coincide with the normative beliefs reported by White and Black adolescents. Hispanics and Southeast Asians U.
Bureau of the Census, There are several reasons to expect that these ethnic groups would have similar perceived norms of role timing. Despite these similar cultural emphases, however, patterns of teenage nonmarital childbearing are quite different in the two groups.
The teenage birthrate of all Hispanic subgroups is three times higher than that of Southeast Asians births per 1, women and 34 births per 1, women, respectively , and Hispanics have a 2. What could explain this paradox? Do Hispanics and Southeast Asians have corresponding differences in their role-timing norms and expectations? Do these relations hold for other racial groups, such as Blacks and Whites? The current study tried to determine the extent to which early adolescent girls of different ethnic and racial backgrounds perceive norms for the role timing and role sequencing of particular life course events and how various socioeconomic and aspirational factors might be linked with these role-timing norms and expectations.
Mexican Americans and Southeast Asian Americans, in addition to sharing attitudes that support traditional family values, have similar socioeconomic profiles. Both populations are characterized by low educational attainment, high unemployment, and a high incidence of poverty, especially compared with Whites U.
Bureau of the Census, a , b. However, these two ethnic groups have quite disparate histories in the U. Southeast Asian immigration to the U. Bureau of the Census, b , c.
Many Mexican immigrants have circular migration patterns between the U. In contrast, Southeast Asian immigrants are largely political refugees who were forced to flee their war-torn countries, and many experienced culture shock when they arrived in the U. Thus, although these two ethnic groups share a few specific cultural and socioeconomic characteristics, they have quite disparate migration histories and patterns of cultural assimilation.
Immigrant status appears to be a significant protective factor against early nonmarital birth. Among Mexican Americans, recent trends show that teenage childbearing is more than twice as common among U. Thus, as individuals assimilate, they appear to acquire values, attitudes, and behaviors of the host country Szapocznik, , which in this case translate into earlier sexual behavior and higher rates of nonmarital teenage births.
It remains to be seen whether the nonmarital and teenage birthrates will increase among second generation U. Because of the relatively recent inclusion of Hispanics and, especially, Southeast Asians in social science research, less is known about the factors that contribute to early role timing in these groups, but for Blacks and Whites, early and non-marital childbearing have long been associated with a host of social, economic, and family structure variables Alan Guttmacher Institute, ; Hayes, ; Miller, Thus, one would expect that girls who place little importance on or perceive little likelihood of achieving educational or work-related goals would choose sexual activity and childbearing relatively early in the life course, and those who value school and career goals would choose to deliberately postpone sex and childbearing.
The best-age items have been used in previous research e. Results reveal how family background characteristics, immigrant status, and future aspirations of the girls might be differentially linked with specific norms of role sequencing for girls of each race and ethnicity.
Each respondent completed a face-to-face interview about basic demographic information e. All the girls spoke English. Their racial and ethnic background was determined by their answers to the question: The racial and ethnic groups that are the focus of this study are Hispanic, Black, White, and Southeast Asian. Although we did not individually solicit the various types of Hispanic origin e. The specific country of origin of the Southeast Asian students also was not specifically solicited, but school data show that approximately half of all Southeast Asian students are Vietnamese, one quarter are Laotian, and one quarter are Cambodian.
All participants were asked their place of birth. When analyzed by racial or ethnic group, the following percentages were born in the U. Thus, except for Southeast Asians, most were born in the U. Six percent of both Whites and Blacks were unsure of their country of origin; they were not foreign born. The girls also were asked in the interview how many years they had lived in the U.
If the respondent had lived in the U. Most respondents were from economically disadvantaged families. Respondents were recruited by sending a letter to all parents of girls attending the four study schools. Measures All respondents completed a self-administered questionnaire about their role-timing desires and norms and their school and job aspirations. Additionally, their mothers completed a short questionnaire about their educational attainment, the total annual family income for the past year, whether the family had ever received AFDC, and whether they were currently receiving AFDC.
Mothers also gave information about their current marital status, their age at first marriage, and their age at first birth. The following items make up the scales that the early adolescent female participants completed. Response options ranged from 1 13—15 years to 9 41 years or older ; each option except 9 encompassed 3 years e. They also indicated if they had ever had voluntary sexual intercourse with a male. Response options were yes or no, coded respectively 1 or 0. Items were drawn from Olsen, Weed, Daly, and Jensen and included: If someone tried to get you to have sex with him, what would you do?
How sure are you that you are ready to have sex? Would you date someone who tried to get you to have sex with him? High scores indicated positive intention for sexual activity.
Response options ranged from 1 not important or very unlikely to 4 very important or very likely. High scores reflected strong importance placed on school and job achievements and a high likelihood of achieving those goals.
A factor analysis computed on these items indicated a one-factor solution, with all items having a component loading greater than. The students were instructed to be quiet and not to discuss their responses with each other during or after the testing session. While participants completed the questionnaires, girls were called by one of the survey administrators and asked to complete the interview.
They completed the questionnaire in about 1 hour and the interview in less than 5 minutes. All questionnaires and interviews were coded using only an identification number, and all participants were assured of the confidentiality of their responses. Girls whose mothers participated did not differ from girls whose mothers did not participate on such characteristics as age, grade in school, family size, religion, or sexual status.
Equivalent percentages of mothers and daughters from each racial and ethnic group responded: Results Prior to evaluating the main questions of this study, we wished to determine whether girls of each racial and ethnic group were comparable in age. Current and ever use of AFCD were coded as 0 to indicate no use and 1 to indicate current or previous use.