On the Universality of the Second Demographic Transition and the Rise of Cohabitation and Non-Marital Childbearing in Chile

Viviana Salinas, Universidad Católica de Chile
Joseph E. Potter, University of Texas at Austin

The proponents of the Second Demographic Transition (SDT) argue that increasing cohabitation and non-marital births will become universal in capitalist societies that stress expressive values. However, the role of unplanned fertility in driving cohabitation and non-marital childbearing is not yet accounted for. We use data from Chile, a country in which cohabitation and non-marital births have increased sharply in recent decades, to question the universality of the SDT. We consider the values and the planning status of births to women in different family arrangements. The results indicate unmarried mothers are not more liberal than married women. Furthermore, most unmarried women plan to marry, and have had unplanned births. Much of non-marital fertility is accepted rather than decided. Among the factors responsible for the shift to out of wedlock childbearing are inadequate contraceptive services and the legal prohibition and social rejection of abortion.

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Presented in Session 177: The Role of Cultural Factors in Union Formation and Dissolution