Cohabitation in Brazil: historical legacy and recent evolution

Anny Carolina Saavedra Morales, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Antonio López-Gay, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Ron J. Lesthaeghe, University of Michigan and University of California, Irvine
Julián López-Colás, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Maira Covre-Sussai, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Albert Esteve, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The paper makes use of IPUMS micro-data of successive Brazilian censuses since 1970 and of multi-level logistic regression to document the effects of individual and contextual covariates on the incidence of cohabitation among young women, age 25-29. Not only levels of cohabitation for 136 Brazilian meso-regions are investigated, but also the differential pace of the rise of this phenomenon since the 1970s. In addition, also the changes in educational profiles over time for successive cohorts are considered in greater detail. The results indicate that historical regional patterns still clearly prevail after controls for all individual characteristics, and that the rise in cohabitation occurred in all regions and all social strata, be it at slightly different paces. White and Catholic meso-regions are catching up, and only urban areas exhibit a slower pace of change. In other words, substantial contextual effects have to be added to the individual level ones. These findings are consistent with the interpretation that a new “layer” of cohabitation inspired by a “second demographic transition” has been added on top of the pre-existing and still persistent historical spatial pattern. The findings also indicate that, despite a major de-stigmatization of cohabitation, the “willingness factor”, i.e. religious and cultural acceptability, is still playing a major differentiating role in the various Brazilian social strata and regions.

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Presented in Session 74: Trends, determinants and patterns of cohabitation