New Clark University Poll Says 18 to 29 Year Olds Are Remarkably Traditional About Roles in Sex, Marriage & Raising Children

Sex with Emotional Commitment; Marriage Before Children and Unions That Last Forever, Top Results

Aug 08, 2012, 10:24 ET from Clark University

WORCESTER, Mass., Aug. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In an age of short-lived celebrity marriages, widespread divorce, babies being born outside of marriage, and the ever-popular "hooking up," young people are remarkably traditional about their expectations for love, marriage and children—for both themselves and society at large, according to a new Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults.

The poll, directed by Clark psychology professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, reports that 86 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds surveyed nationwide expect to have a marriage that will last a lifetime.

"It's striking to see how optimistic today's emerging adults are about their prospects for having a life-long marriage. They grow up knowing that half of marriages end in divorce, yet nearly all of them expect to be in the half that doesn't," said Arnett. "Of today's emerging adults, the ones with divorced parents are often the ones who are most determined to avoid divorce, even though they are statistically most likely to get divorced themselves." 

The study also reveals that 57 percent feel it is not okay for two people to have sex if they are not emotionally involved with each other and 73 percent believe that couples should be married before having a child.

One noteworthy way emerging adults are not traditional, however, is in how they prioritize family goals over career goals: 61 percent expect they will give up some of their career goals in order to have the family life they want. Surprisingly, young men are as likely as young women to have these expectations. "That's a lot different from the past. Traditionally, women have been far more likely to sacrifice career goals for family. These new findings suggest that this may change in the new generation of emerging adults to a more equal sharing of family responsibilities," said Arnett.

The Clark University Poll of Emerging Adults is based on 1029 interviews of 18 to 29 year-olds nationwide. The margin of error is +/- 3.06 percent. A mixed-mode methodology was used for this project.  Visit

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SOURCE Clark University