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Title: Extended living arrangements in Chile : an analysis of subfamilies
Author: Palma, Julieta
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 5868
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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Extended households are far from a rare phenomenon in Latin America and their prevalence does not seem to be in decline. In Chile, they accounted for about a quarter of all households over the 1990–2011 period. This persistence contrasts with the dramatic transformations that have taken place in other dimensions of family life, such as the fall in fertility and marriage rates, and the increase in cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births. Recent studies on extended living arrangements in the region have mainly understood household extension as a strategy to face economic deprivation, giving little attention to other factors affecting it, such as gender inequalities and changing needs for support over the life course. In this dissertation, I contribute to the understanding of extended households Chile through the analysis of adult women living in family units over the 1990–2011 period. Unlike most other studies, I recognise the unequal positions that individuals and families occupy within the extended household, by distinguishing between women that head an extended household and those that join it as subfamilies. Using quantitative methods, I analyse a nationally representative household survey: the CASEN survey. This is the most complete data source on demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the Chilean population. This dissertation offers a new assessment of the relationship between extended living arrangements and economic deprivation. Its findings only partially support the hypothesis of household extension as a family strategy to face economic hardship. Other key factors emerge when explaining extended living arrangements, including mothers’ full-time employment, the vulnerability of informal family structures, and other needs of support connected to the life course. There has been an increasing trend across 1990–2011 for young women who have started their family life to live in extended households. Multivariate analyses reveals that this increase was mainly influenced by the rising prevalence of cohabitation and single lone motherhood among younger generations, and to a lesser extent by the increase in young women’s full-time employment. These findings raise important theoretical issues for the Chilean context and show that patterns of social modernisation and family change in Chile have gone hand-in-hand with an increasing importance of the support provided by the extended family. This dissertation fills an important gap in the research on intra-household gender inequalities by analysing women’s economic dependence on extended household members. It shows that women in subfamilies are more likely to be economically dependent than those in head-families. Full-time employment, as well as marriage and cohabitation, emerge as highly protective factors against economic dependence. Special attention is paid to lone mothers, who are often excluded from research on women’s economic dependence. Lone mothers in subfamilies benefit economically from being in an extended household. Yet overall they have decreased their likelihood of being economically dependent over the 1990–2011 period. I argue that this reflects the increasing social protection towards lone mothers and recent legal reforms aimed at the equalisation of rights among couples and children irrespective of the marriage bond.
Supervisor: Scott, Jacqueline Sponsor: Becas Chile ; Conicyt Chile
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Extended households ; Subfamilies ; Family change ; Family formation ; Chile ; Latin America ; Extended living arrangements ; Household extension ; Economic dependence ; Lone mothers ; Cohabitation