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Life-Cycle Transitions and Political Participation: The Case of Marriage

  • Laura Stoker (a1) and M. Kent Jennings (a2)


We investigate the consequences of changes in marital status for political participation, treating marital status as marking points of continuity and transition in an individual's life history and marriage as a setting that fosters interaction and interdependence between marital partners. The analysis is based on panel and pseudopanel data from the 1965–82 socialization study of parents, offspring, and spouses. We find that marital transitions affect participation in four ways: (1) marital partners adjust their activity levels to become more like each other after marriage; (2) marital transitions of any type, especially marriage among younger people, tend to depress participation; (3) the overall effect of marriage, however, is powerfully mediated by the participation level of the partner; and (4) these mediation effects are greatest for political activities that involve collective efforts or draw upon the couple's joint resources.



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