Growing economic inequality and changing social norms are associated with a greater diversity of family formation pathways among young adults and these trajectories vary by race, socioeconomic status, and geography. Sociological research has primarily focused on privileged youth delaying the traditional markers of adulthood, such as marriage. There is little research on young adulthood in the rural South, where statistically, early marriage is more common than elsewhere in the nation.
Sociologist Rachel Allison will conduct a longitudinal qualitative study of the relationship between family formation and educational and work experiences among young adults in Mississippi. She will examine how early marriage among a diverse group of 18 to 23-year-old students attending either a two-year community college or four-year university shapes educational and work experiences by tracing young adults’ lives over five years through qualitative interviews. Allison will ask respondents about their relationship experiences, their decision to marry if applicable, their education and work goals, and how these evolve over time. Educational outcomes of interest include major choice, internship experience, campus leadership positions, transfer into a 4-year university, time to degree, graduate school enrollment, GPA, etc. Work outcomes include intended career field, desired job location, ideal work hours, and ideal workplace culture.