Volume 44 - Article 48 | Pages 1149–1164

Do same-sex unions dissolve more often than different-sex unions? Methodological insights from Colombian data on sexual behavior

By Fernando Ruiz Vallejo, Diederik Boertien

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Date received:24 Jul 2020
Date published:10 Jun 2021
Word count:2589
Keywords:Colombia, dissolution, divorce, family, same-sex couples


Background: Conclusions about differences in union dissolution rates between same-sex couples and different-sex couples vary across studies and countries. Previous research identifies same-sex couples solely using information on the sex of partners.

Objective: To investigate how the measures used to identify same-sex couples affect conclusions regarding differences in dissolution rates between different-sex and same-sex unions in the stigmatized context of Colombia.

Methods: We use rich retrospective data from the Colombian DHS 2015 on the duration of 63,462 unions, including 1,051 same-sex unions. An important feature of this survey is that respondents are also asked about their sexual behavior.

Results: Similar to previous studies on the United States, estimates solely based on the reported sex of partners show that cohabiting same-sex couples are as likely to separate as cohabiting different-sex couples in Colombia. However, excluding same-sex unions of persons who reported never having had sex with someone of the same sex, same-sex unions are considerably more likely to end in separation than different-sex unions.

Conclusions: The same-sex unions of persons who report having had sex with someone of the same sex are more likely to end in separation than different-sex unions in Colombia.

Contribution: We show how substantive conclusions about the relative stability of same-sex unions depend on how same-sex unions are identified. To reduce the influence of possible miscoding on conclusions we recommend combining various measures to identify same-sex unions.

Author's Affiliation

Fernando Ruiz Vallejo - Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia [Email]
Diederik Boertien - Centre d'Estudis Demogràfics (CED), Spain [Email]

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