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Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Change and Continuity in the Fertility of Unpartnered Women in Latin America
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL http://187.45.187.130/~abeporgb/xxencontro/files/_paper/55-172.pdf
Abstract
The proportion of children born to unmarried mothers has been increasing in most Latin American countries
over the last decades. In fact, since the turn of the century, more children are born outside marriage
than within (Castro-Martín et al. 2011). Furthermore, recent research has shown that in Latin America, as in
other world regions, there has been a recent cohabitation boom (Castro-Martín 2002; Esteve, Lesthaeghe
and López-Gay 2012; López-Gay et al. 2014), and that consensual unions are no longer atypical among
middle and upper classes (Laplante et al. 2015). As in several European countries (Toulemon and Testa
2005), the probability of having a child is practically the same for cohabiting and married couples in Latin
America (Laplante et al. 2015). Nevertheless, we know relatively little about the second component of
nonmarital fertility: the childbearing behaviour of unpartnered women and women with a partner who does
not reside with her. In order to fill this gap, this study addresses the underlying causes of the increasing
share of total fertility attributable to women who are neither married nor cohabiting.
In most Latin American countries, vital statistics do not distinguish between children born to unpartnered
mothers and children born to mothers living in a consensual union. Given the remarkable rise in unmarried
cohabitation and the wide social acceptance of childbearing within consensual union in the region,
one would expect the rise in non-marital fertility to be linked to the increase in fertility within consensual
union whilst fertility among out-of-union women remains stable or even declines. However, it does not
seem to be so.

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