Continuity or change? Educational attainment, labor force participation and the transition to marriage in Costa Rica and Mexico

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 occurring in Mexico—and to some extent in Costa Rica—is a result of an extended enrollment in school, not an indication of ideational change. This paper contributes to the current debate on the different effects of educational attainment on marriage timing across societies and within societies.

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Presented in Session 113: Gender, educational achievement and the marriage market