The baby will come, the ring can wait : differences between married and unmarried first-time mothers in Chile
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The proportion of children born outside of marriage in Chile increased from 15.9 percent in 1960 to 64.6 percent in 2008. Similar increases have been taken elsewhere as indicative of a Second Demographic Transition (SDT). In this dissertation, I study differences between married and unmarried mothers in Chile and the reasons why such a large proportion of children are born outside of marriage, with the goal of understanding whether the demographic changes we are observing in the country are part of a global movement towards the SDT. The data comes from a postpartum survey implemented in Santiago, the capital city. I analyze differences between women according to the family arrangement they live in, including married women in nuclear households, married women in extended households, cohabiters in nuclear households, cohabiters in extended households, visiting mothers, and single mothers. I consider women’s socioeconomic wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, social support, attitudes and values, and reproductive health. The results show large demographic and socioeconomic differences, marking the socioeconomic advantage of married women in nuclear households, who are the oldest, and the disadvantage of cohabiters in extended households, visiting and single mothers, who are the youngest women in the sample. Married women in extended households and cohabiters in nuclear households are between these two poles. Differences in emotional wellbeing exist, benefiting married women in nuclear households, but they are not so large. Differences in social support continue delineating married women in nuclear households as a privileged group, but visiting mothers appear as a highly supported group too. There are not large differences in attitudes and values, as most women continue holding conservative attitudes on family issues, and most unmarried mothers plan to marry. Differences in reproductive health are large, showing that unplanned births and contraceptive failure are high in the underprivileged and youngest groups. Unmarried women seem to accept their pregnancies with no pressure to marry, and to give priority to other goals, such as their careers and homeownership, before the wedding, which they do not discard for the future. Under these circumstances, it is hard to interpret recent demographic changes in Chile as a SDT.