Volume 30 - Article 59 | Pages 1621–1638  

Towards a Geography of Unmarried Cohabitation in the Americas

By Antonio López-Gay, Albert Esteve, Julián López-Colás, Iñaki Permanyer, Anna Turu, Sheela Kennedy, Benoît Laplante, Ron Lesthaeghe

Abstract

Background: As the incidence of cohabitation has been rising in many parts of the world, efforts to determine the forces driving the cohabitation boom have also been intensifying. But most of the analyses of this issue conducted so far were carried out at a national level, and did not account for regional heterogeneity within countries.

Objective: This paper presents the geography of unmarried cohabitation in the Americas. We offer a large-scale, cross-national perspective, together with small-area estimates of cohabitation. We created this map for several reasons. (i) First, our examination of the geography of cohabitation reveals considerable spatial heterogeneity, and challenges the explanatory frameworks which may work at the international level, but which have low explanatory power with regard to intra-national variation. (ii) Second, we argue that historical pockets of cohabitation can still be identified by examining the current geography of cohabitation. (iii) Finally, our map serves as an initial step in efforts to determine whether the recent increase in cohabitation is an intensification of pre-existing traditions, or whether it has different roots that suggest that a new geography may be evolving.

Methods: Census microdata from 39 countries and 19,000 local units have been pooled together to map the prevalence of cohabitation among women.

Results: The results show inter- and intra-national regional contrasts. The highest rates of cohabitation are found in areas of Central America, the Caribbean, Colombia, and Peru. The lowest rates are mainly found in the United States and Mexico. In all of the countries, the spatial autocorrelation statistics indicate that there is substantial spatial heterogeneity.

Conclusions: Our results lead us to ask what forces may have shaped these patterns, and they remind us that these forces need to be taken into account when seeking to explain recent cohabitation patterns, and especially the rise in cohabitation.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Spatial continuities and discontinuities in two successive demographic transitions: Spain and Belgium, 1880-2010
Volume 28 - Article 4

Dynamics of the coefficient of variation of the age at death distribution
Volume 49 - Article 38

Black–white intermarriage in global perspective
Volume 49 - Article 28

Educational selectivity of native and foreign-born internal migrants in Europe
Volume 47 - Article 34

Divergent trends in lifespan variation during mortality crises
Volume 46 - Article 11

Demographic change and increasing late singlehood in East Asia, 2010–2050
Volume 43 - Article 46

The effect of union dissolution on the fertility of women in Montevideo, Uruguay
Volume 43 - Article 4

The living arrangements of Moroccans in Spain: Generation and time
Volume 40 - Article 37

Change and continuity in the fertility of unpartnered women in Latin America, 1980–2010
Volume 38 - Article 51

A matter of norms: Family background, religion, and generational change in the diffusion of first union breakdown among French-speaking Quebeckers
Volume 35 - Article 27

The contributions of childbearing within marriage and within consensual union to fertility in Latin America, 1980-2010
Volume 34 - Article 29

Two period measures for comparing the fertility of marriage and cohabitation
Volume 32 - Article 14

Disentangling how educational expansion did not increase women's age at union formation in Latin America from 1970 to 2000
Volume 28 - Article 3

Children’s Experiences of Family Disruption in Sweden: Differentials by Parent Education over Three Decades
Volume 23 - Article 17

Cohabitation and children's living arrangements: New estimates from the United States
Volume 19 - Article 47

Changes in educational assortative mating in contemporary Spain
Volume 14 - Article 17

Value Orientations and the Second Demographic Transition (SDT) in Northern, Western and Southern Europe: An Update
Special Collection 3 - Article 3

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Measuring short-term mobility patterns in North America using Facebook advertising data, with an application to adjusting COVID-19 mortality rates
Volume 50 - Article 10    | Keywords: COVID-19, data collection, Facebook, mortality, North America, short-term mobility

Ultra-Orthodox fertility and marriage in the United States: Evidence from the American Community Survey
Volume 49 - Article 29    | Keywords: age at first marriage, American Community Survey (ACS), fertility, Judaism, marriage, religion, total fertility rate (TFR), Ultra-Orthodox Judaism

An alternative version of the second demographic transition? Changing pathways to first marriage in Japan
Volume 49 - Article 16    | Keywords: cohabitation, first marriages, pattern of disadvantage, premarital children, second demographic transition, transition

Subnational variations in births and marriages during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea
Volume 48 - Article 30    | Keywords: COVID-19, fertility, Korea, marriage

Adult children’s union type and contact with mothers: A replication
Volume 48 - Article 23    | Keywords: cohabitation, intergenerational contacts, marriage