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Nuptiality in Latin America

an earlier work, the same authors (Goldman and Pebley 1981) used 1960s data

for women in rural Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru to estimate that “in

the absence of separation and death of a partner almost half of consensual

unions would eventually

become marriages in Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico,

and about 65 percent in

Peru”

(1981,

p.54).

Commenting

on

the

discrepancy

between the earlier and

later figures for Mexico, the authors note “Such a

difference could result

from a number of factors including a change in the

pattern of legalization

subsequent to 1970, differential misreporting in the

two surveys or differences in the sampling frames be

tween PECFAL and EMF

(Pebley

and

Goldman

1986,

p.206).

Of

these

possibil

ities, they go on to

suggest that differences in question wording in the

two surveys may have been

a major cause.

A next natural question might be whether there

are certain measurable

characteristics of the woman or man that might make

a union more or less prone

to

become

legalized.

Perhaps

the

outgrowth

of

our

n

otions about the “shotgun

marriage,” it was often speculated for instance, tha

t a pregnancy might induce

union

legalization.

After

careful

analysis,

Goldman

and Pebley (1981; 1986))

did not find substantiation for the notion in either

their rural samples of

women in four countries in the 1960s (Colombia, Cost

a Rica, Mexico, Peru) or

their national sample of women in Mexico in the mid

1970s.

However

they

did

find that such factors as education, age and whether

the union was the woman’s

first union did have important influences on whether

the union became

formalized.

Timing and Prevalence of First Union

Although we are really talking about a range here from perhaps 18 to 23

in 1950 and 20 to 24 in 1980, the average mean age at first marriage for women

in Latin America as a whole appears to have risen from not quite 21 around

17

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