Journal Article

Family formation trajectories and migration in the United States by the end of the 20th century

Current Sociology, 1–30 (2022)
Open Access


Studies often explain differences in family behaviors by migration status by testing four hypotheses: socializationselection,
disruption, and assimilation/adaptation. These hypotheses were initially formulated as competing explanations, but some scholars have argued that they are complementary. Currently, however, this complementary relationship is not well understood. In this article, I draw on intersectionality theory to challenge this hypothesis-based narrative of the relationship between migration and family formation and dissolution trajectories. I use retrospective information on marriages, union dissolutions, and births of men and women from five waves of the National Survey of Family Growth (1995–2015) to construct a six-category typology of family trajectories. This typology divides men and women into groups with similar family formation and dissolution trajectories. I correlate this typology with information on each respondent’s race/ethnicity, educational attainment, place of birth, and age at migration. The exploratory analysis of these correlations underlines the need for approaches that move beyond testing the above-mentioned hypotheses toward nuanced descriptions of the multiple ways in which family formation and migration paths are intertwined, and how these relationships are influenced by gender and social class inequalities.

Keywords: America, family, international migration
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.