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Detroit Area Study, 1984: The Process of Mate Choice and Nuptiality in Detroit (ICPSR 9306)

Principal Investigator(s): Whyte, Martin K.


This Detroit Area Study was primarily concerned with investigating the process of mate choice over time and the impact of mate choice experiences on marital success. To this end, the survey questioned ever-married women about their dating and mate choice history, marital history, and satisfaction with and problems in existing marriages. Respondents were questioned about the steady boyfriends they had before their first marriage and whether they seriously considered marrying another man before they married their first husband. Women who answered in the affirmative to the latter were queried about the race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic characteristics of the man they had most seriously considered marrying before marrying their first husband, how long they went out together, and how the relationship broke off. Questions on the respondent's first marriage covered such things as how and where the respondent first met her husband, her age when they met, how long they were engaged, whether or not they lived together before marrying, whether she had doubts or sought advice about the decision to marry before the wedding, and whether her parents or her husband's parents approved or disapproved of the marriage. Women were also questioned about their career expectations before their first marriage, the religion and socioeconomic status of their first husband, and the date, place, and size of the wedding celebration as well as living arrangements in the first six months of marriage. Questions on the current or most recent marriage covered topics such as the marital division of labor, child-rearing practices and values, friendships shared with the husband, and satisfaction and and interaction with the husband, including the degree of communication, affection shown, disagreements, and physical abuse. Additional information gathered by the survey includes number children ever born, number of stepchildren and adoptions, and the age, race, ethnicity, education, religion, religiosity, employment status, occupation, and early family background of the respondent.

Series: Detroit Area Studies Series

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Study Description


Whyte, Martin K. Detroit Area Study, 1984: The Process of Mate Choice and Nuptiality in Detroit. ICPSR09306-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1990. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09306.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09306.v1

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    child rearing, cities, dating (social), decision making, domestic responsibilities, economic behavior, expectations, families, family life, family work relationship, husbands, interpersonal communication, marital relations, marital satisfaction, marriage, remarriage, social life, spouses, wives, women

Geographic Coverage:    Detroit, Michigan, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1925--1984

Date of Collection:   

  • 1984

Universe:    Ever-married women between the ages of 18 and 75 residing in housing units located in the Michigan counties of Wayne, Macomb, or Oakland.

Data Type(s):    survey data


Sample:    Multistage area probability sample of households. Within each sampled household, one respondent was selected at random from all eligible women.

Data Source:

personal interviews

Restrictions: In order to preserve respondent confidentiality, certain identifying variables are restricted from general dissemination. Aggregations of this information for statistical purposes that preserve the anonymity of individual respondents can be obtained from ICPSR in accordance with existing servicing policies.


Original ICPSR Release:   1990-05-01

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