Is Marriage Here to Stay? Educational Attainment, Labor Force Participation and the Transition to First Marriage among Women in Mexico and Costa Rica

Julieta Perez Amador, University of Wisconsin at Madison

In Latin America marriage still occurs relatively early despite the steady rise in women’s educational attainment and labor force participation. Is marriage immune to demographic and socioeconomic transformations occurring in the region? The objective of this paper is to investigate the role of educational attainment and labor force participation on marriage timing among early and late cohorts of women in Mexico and Costa Rica. I hypothesize that the importance of education and labor force participation for marriage formation has remained constant regardless of the increase in their levels, reflecting the priority of family formation in women’s lives. Therefore, the slight delay in marriage observed in Mexico—and to some extent in Costa Rica—is a result of an extended period of enrollment in school, not an indication of ideational change. This paper contributes to the current debate on the effects of educational attainment on marriage timing across societies and within societies.

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Presented in Session 141: Family Change in Developing Countries