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Nuptiality in Latin America

census data provide a cross-sectional view because different generations (or

cohorts in demographic parlance) may enter into marriage at different average

ages yet census data refer to different age groups at the same point in time

(period).

Finally,

such

data

cannot

address

the

issue

of

mortality;

even

a

modest level of mortality could affect the figures.

Although earlier figures are particularly suspect because of a problem

reporting non-legal unions, in 1980 the proportion of males

or females ever

married by age 50 appeared to be about 91 and 90 percent on

average (Palloni

and

De

Vos

unpublished;

U.N.

1990).

Such

figures

suggest

a

moderately high

prevalence as opposed to the much lower figures for Western

Europe

historically if one is wont to consider 90 percent or above

to mean fairly

prevalent

(U.N.

1990).

Actually,

that

seems

to

be

a

fairly

liberal cut off

point as more than 95 percent of a population is married by

age 50 in some

places.

It

would

be

more

accurate

perhaps

to

describe

marital

prevalence

in

Latin America as “moderately universal.”

Union Dissolution

Related to th

e difficulty of obtaining an accurate picture of people’s

real union status

in Latin America has been the difficulty of acquiring

information on uni

on dissolution because a common view of formal marriage

there has been tha

t it can only be dissolved when one of the spouses dies.

Divorce can be con

sidered so dishonorable in fact, that it is not unheard of

speculate that the

rigidity of laws and views regarding formal marriage could

help the option of

forming a consensual union instead appear attractive, for

that a married man

actually resides in a consensual union while still

reporting himself

as

married

(see

e.g.

Caravajal

1980).

One

might

also

both men and women

, despite its unsanctioned quality.

Divorce per se was

even illegal until

recently in many countries except for the gravest of

19

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