Volume 30 - Article 6 | Pages 187-226

Pathways to marriage and cohabitation in Central America

By Kathryn Grace, Stuart Sweeney

Print this page  Twitter

 

 
Date received:14 Mar 2013
Date published:22 Jan 2014
Word count:8500
Keywords:adolescent transition, Central America, cohabitation, family formation, life course, marriage
DOI:10.4054/DemRes.2014.30.6
 

Abstract

Background: The notion that increasing prevalence of cohabitation relative to marriage, and increasing age at first marriage are part of a broader shift in societal norms -- a second demographic transition -- is now well supported by studies focused on US and European populations. Recent research points to the similarly high prevalence of cohabitation in Latin America as perhaps signaling the diffusion of modern ideals and norms about union formation. In Central America this is unlikely to be the case given the long history and enduring acceptance of cohabitation that is unrelated to modern ideals. While there are studies that have documented this history and current prevalence, there is no research examining the intersecting life course pathways from adolescence through early adulthood that lead to marriage or cohabitation. This is not surprising given that available data for Central American countries are not ideally suited to studying the process.

Methods: We use retrospective questions from large, nationally representative Central American surveys (Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) to establish the timing of marriage or cohabitation and events that are closely tied to union formation. We utilize additive causespecific hazard models, and predicted transition probabilities based on selected covariate pathways, to study the competing risks of exiting from the status of never in union.

Results: Our results identify sexual activity and pregnancy as the primary drivers of union formation and indicate that education serves as a protective factor against union formation. We also find distinct differences among countries and a strong indication that cohabitations are less stable unions.

Author's Affiliation

Kathryn Grace - University of Utah, United States of America [Email]
Stuart Sweeney - University of California at Santa Barbara, United States of America [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Contraceptive use and intent in Guatemala
Volume 23 - Article 12

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Commitment and the changing sequence of cohabitation, childbearing, and marriage: Insights from qualitative research in the UK
Volume 33 - Article 12    | Keywords: cohabitation, marriage

» Union formation and dissolution among immigrants and their descendants in the United Kingdom
Volume 33 - Article 10    | Keywords: cohabitation, marriage

» The low importance of marriage in eastern Germany - social norms and the role of peoples’ perceptions of the past
Volume 33 - Article 9    | Keywords: cohabitation, marriage

» Changes in partnership patterns across the life course: An examination of 14 countries in Europe and the United States
Volume 33 - Article 6    | Keywords: cohabitation, marriage

» Two period measures for comparing the fertility of marriage and cohabitation
Volume 32 - Article 14    | Keywords: cohabitation, marriage