Economic well-being among elderly couples in marriage and cohabitation: what developed countries can learn from countries like Mexico

Gilbert Brenes, University of Wisconsin at Madison

In Latin America, the proportion of people in middle and late age who are cohabiting is higher than in industrialized countries. Cohabitation is considered by some scholars as an “incomplete” institution, where couples fare worse in economic and social well-being than in marriage. The main goal is to analyze whether cohabiting couples face a different economic situation, and whether this can be explained by the fact that cohabiters might be a selected group. The analysis focuses on Mexican couples where at least one of the partners was age 50 or more, by using the first wave of the Mexican Health and Aging Survey (MHAS) 2001 dataset. The main results are that, after controlling for compositional variables (which are related to selection), there is no statistically significant difference in net worth and perceived financial situation, between married and cohabiting couples, bu there is in the likelihood of owning a house.

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Presented in Poster Session 2