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Nuptiality in Latin America

happy and attempts are being made to bring males into the picture as well as

to

tackle

the

issue

in

other

ways.

For

instance,

instead

of

only

collecting

fertility information from women, fertility surveys now often contain a module

directed

at

men.

Demographic

inquiry

sometimes

talks

about

a

couple’s

decision making process regarding the number of children in their family

instead of using only the woman’s preference (e.g. Thompson et al. 1990).

Family planning programs sometimes reach out to males despite others’ ideas of

‘maternal

and

child

health.’

The

1997

Population

of

Association

of

America

annual meetings was replete with papers addressing such issues as paternity

and the male family life course, as if demographers are finally discovering

that males are important (!) (see also Goldscheider and Kaufman 1996).

Some demographers have been less concerned about the demographic

processes of birth, death or migration than about the population’s

composition, the idea that a population’s structure that includes such factors

as age, sex, marital status, race/ethnicity, households, education and labor

force participation, provides a backbone or skeleton upon which the rest of a

social

body

is

formed.

It

is

here

that

the

sociological

imagination

can

take

off, because sprouting from the demographic concern with population

composition is the subfield of ‘family demography’ that deals with “union

formation and dissolution; family and household structure and change; and

kinship”

(Burch

1995:

85).

Its

strengths

are

“accurate

measurement

and

description of what is” (Sweet 1977:364) and it looks at men as well as women

(Sweet

and

Bumpass

1987).

Theory

is

not

its

strong

point

although

one

might

add that a life course or family development perspective seems to have

provided good organizing principles (Glick 1955; Klein and White 1996;

Uhlenberg

1978).

And

one

of

the

stages

in

most

life

courses

is

the

formation

of

a

union.

Indeed,

Sweet

and

Bumpass

seem

to

have

organized

their

1987

book

on American families and households in part by marital status, while earlier

5

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