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Nuptiality in Latin America

reasons,

and

still

is

illegal

in

Chile.

Even

legal

separation

(diquete)

was

difficult

to

obtain.

It

should

come

as

no

surprise

therefore

that

the

reported divorce rate in Latin America is very low when statistics on it are

even

available:

“The

rates

of

divorce

[...]

are

about

one

half

to

one

fifth

those of Europe because registered dissolutions in Latin America occur only to

the legally married, who form a smaller percentage of the total adult

population” (Goode 1993, p.191).

The picture is very different if one considers union dissolution broadly

to include consensual unions however because consensual unions are much less

stable

than

formal

marriages.

For

instance,

using

World

Fertility

Survey

data, Quilodrán (1985) estimated that the likelihood of dissolution after five

years was perhaps six times higher for consensual unions than for formal

marriages

during

the

1970s

in

various

Latin

American

countries.

Perhaps

a

third of the consensual unions tallied were not still operative after five

years

among

women

15-49.

Thus,

instead

of

having

a

low

dissolution

rate,

the

region could be considered to have a rather high dissolution rate and some

people have described Latin American union formation “serial monogamy” in

which people have successive partners who may behave as if they are married

for

a

limited

period

of

time.

(This

is

probably

related

to

the

fact

that

a

relatively large proportion of children live in female-headed households in

Latin America, but that is a topic outside the scope of our present study.)

Divorce has become increasingly acceptable socially (and legally) however,

perhaps reducing the appeal of a consensual union.

A SOCIOECONOMIC DIMENSION TO UNION TYPE IN LATIN AMERICA

One often reads about what traditionally were the socioeconomic correlates

20

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