The Educational Homogamy Gap between Married and Cohabiting Couples in Latin America

Robert McCaa, University of Minnesota
Luis A. Lopez, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The explosive expansion of non-marital cohabitation in Latin America since the 1970s has led to the narrowing of the gap in educational homogamy between married and cohabiting couples (what we call “homogamy gap”) as shown by our analysis of 29 census samples encompassing eight countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, México and Panama (N = 2,295,160 young couples). We find that among married couples educational homogamy continues to be higher than for those who cohabit, but in recent decades the difference has narrowed substantially in all countries. Our results can be directly linked to the emerging debate about the nature of cohabitation as it establishes itself as a common, if not dominant, form of union in the region and beyond. We argue that had the increase of cohabitation been mainly an intensification of traditional forms, the homogamy gap would have remained stable instead of almost vanishing.

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Presented in Poster Session 4