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Nuptiality in Latin America

evidence there is pertains to women, one has to ask about men even in the

societies

for

which

we

have

some

evidence.

A

failure

to

document

what

many

considered to be facts does not seem particularly scientific to me, even if

there is now interest in showing the emergence of a “new” as opposed to

traditional kind of consensual union (e.g. Parrado and Tienda forthcoming).

And while demographers may have traditionally focused on women, a family

demographer includes men as well as women in her purview.

The main sociological question, nothing new, is how one is supposed to

think about “social structure” when one reads that the formation of consensual

unions

seems

to

be

more

cultural

than

socioeconomic.

Take

for

example

education,

an

indicator

often

used

to

signify

socioeconomic

status.

In

Argentina in 1981, of in union women aged 20-24 with less than a primary

school education, 35 percent were in a consensual union and 65 percent were

married.

Among

comparable

women

with

more

than

a

primary

education,

7

percent

were

in

a

consensual

union

while

93

percent

were

married.

How

does

one

interpret

this?

Can

one

say

that

there

is

something

structural

as

opposed

to

cultural

about

an

educational

difference?

Does

not

education

deal

with

both

ideas

and

one’s

position

in

society?

Or

take

urban/rural

residence

for

another

example.

In

Argentina

in

1981

again,

among

in

union

women

20-24

who

were urban residents, 16 percent were in a consensual union while 84 percent

were

married.

Among

union

and

73

percent

their

were

rural

counterparts,

27

married.

How

does

one

percent

interpret

were

in

this?

a

consensual

What

is

socioeconomic about living in an urban or rural area?

Since people with the

same culture occupy different positions on a social hierarchy, how would you

interpret an education difference among people in the same area who presumably

share

a

common

culture?

I

would

interpret

it

in

terms

of

a

socioeconomic

effect.

Call

that

“structural”

if

you

wish.

In this exercise, let us use education as our indicator of socioeconomic

22

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