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Explaining Cross-Cultural Variations in Age at Marriage and Proportions Never Marrying

Ruth B. Dixon
Population Studies
Vol. 25, No. 2 (Jul., 1971), pp. 215-233
DOI: 10.2307/2173211
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2173211
Page Count: 19
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Explaining Cross-Cultural Variations in Age at Marriage and Proportions Never Marrying
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Abstract

According to censuses taken around 1960, the distinction between the `European' pattern of late marriage and high proportions never married and the `traditional' pattern of early and universal marriage remains generally valid for female populations in spite of trends toward convergence in the past few decades. Among male populations, however, the regional overlap is great. Variations in the timing and quantity of nuptiality in 57 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the English-speaking nations overseas are explained on the basis of variables measuring the desirability and feasibility of marriage. The conclusion is that marriage is becoming more feasible in the wealthier nations of the West and less feasible in many developing non-Western nations. Social and economic penalties of non-marriage are stronger in non-Western societies than in the West, and stronger for women than for men.

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