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The intergenerational transmission of marital instability was examined with the use of data from five surveys, four of them from national samples. Among blacks, whites, males, and females, respondents from parental homes that were disrupted by death or divorce during their childhood had higher rates of divorce or separation in their own first marriages. Except for black males, a greater transmission effect was found among respondents from childhood homes disrupted by divorce or separation rather than by death. Implications from the literature on sex-role learning in children were examined by comparing the transmission effect for respondents who, after having their parental homes disrupted, were reared in households of different composition. The results indicated that the role model rationale for the transmission of marital instability must be elaborated before it can successfully account for the findings from existing national surveys.