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Keywords:

  • families;
  • household strategies;
  • Latin America;
  • marriage;
  • women

Marriage among women in Latin America occurs early in life and is nearly universal in spite of the social and economic changes and instability in the region. We use demographic measures to illustrate the precociousness, persistence, and universality of marriage during the past 50 years. We argue that marriage is central to social life because families serve as an important cultural institution for countering the vicissitudes of the economy. Women's roles within families and households are key, as has been illustrated by the growth of literature on household survival strategies during the 1980s and 1990s, when the region experienced widespread economic crisis and restructuring.