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The marriage paradox: expectations and reality of young people's family configurations

Cecilia Serrano has studied the pathway of Geodemography in the Master's Degree in research in Social Sciences in the 2018/2019 academic year.

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During the course, Cecilia Serrano has collaborated with the project 'Youth in transition'.
PHOTO: Natalia Rouzaut
19/07/19 16:34 Natalia Rouzaut

How have young people's expectations regarding marriage and the training of a family changed in recent years? What impact have the new social and family configurations had? Cecilia Serrano, student of the III Promotion of the Master's Degree in research in Social Sciences (MICS) of the University of Navarra, has tried to solve these questions in her work of Fin de Master's Degree.

Serrano has investigated young people's expectations regarding marriage and the changes that have arisen in the process of training couple and family arrangements. To this end, he has explored the relationship between the expected age of marriage of 16-year-olds and the sentimental reality of 33-year-olds and the factors that may affect the fulfillment of these expectations.

"Expectations have not changed significantly in recent years," explained Serrano. As he has stated, young people consider marriage and family to be important despite the fact that, currently, they are getting married later -in Spain, the age average is 36 years old in 2018, while in 2002 it was 30- or never get married at all. This is known as 'the marriage paradox'.

According to him, this is due to new social and family configurations, such as cohabitation, unmarried couples, single parent families, etc. He considers that the fact that these possibilities are becoming more and more common may lead those who wish to marry to opt for other options or to do so later, as new ones are socially accepted and recognized Structures.

Individual decision and social impact

Although these personal decisions may not seem to matter much, they can have a major demographic impact that also influences the way we view society. "Many changes in preferences are due to new social and family configurations and these, in turn, are affected by changes in individual expectations," he said.

If the environment has an influence, the family is the first example. "We continue to see that the figure of the parents has a great impact on the children's decisions," he said. There are two examples: children of divorced parents are more likely to cohabit or those who live with their parents are more likely to marry according to their expectations.

This research was possible thanks to the methodological tools and theoretical instructions learned in the MICS. With his work he sought to "converge both dimensions, with a theoretical discussion supported by an empirical analysis".

One foot in the world researcher

Also, during the course, Serrano was able to collaborate with the project of research 'Youth in transition' of the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) of the University of Navarra. This project aims to understand the challenges faced by today's youth during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. "Feeling that your research is framed in a larger project is very exciting," she concluded. Cecilia Serrano will continue this research on the project of 'Youth in transition' through her doctoral thesis .