In Chile, as in other Latin American countries, most children born outside of marriage are born to currently cohabiting couples. After having their first child, parents could marry, separate, or experience no change in union status. This paper explores changes in cohabitation that occur after the birth of the first child in Chile and analyzes how these changes might be associated with the birth of children and socioeconomic status. The data come from the New Chilean Family Survey, a small longitudinal survey administered to women after giving birth (n = 564). I use life tables and event history techniques to assess changes in respondent union status up to 4 years after the birth of the first child, and to study the transitions out of cohabitation. The results indicate that the unions in the sample are relatively stable, because less than 40 percent of cohabiters change status over the period of 4 years. However, marriage still appears to be a more stable type of union than cohabitation. Among cohabiters, there is evidence of a nonlinear relation between union stability and educational attainment, because the most stable unions are the unions of women with a high school diploma and not the unions of women who did not complete their secondary education. Having planned the first birth and the birth of an additional child seems to consolidate the cohabiting union, because these variables are not related to the entry into marriage, but they are related to lower risks of dissolution. These findings suggest that the Chilean case differs from the cases of Europe and the United States.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2015
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