Consensual Unions and Fertility
While the incidence of such marriage forms is especially high in the Caribbean, Latin American nations generally have much higher rates than most North American or European nations. Thus, in 1950, of twenty Latin American nations, seven recorded over 40 percent of all current unions as consensual.1 Whether there is a relation between fertility and consensual unions in Latin America is unknown. The present paper opens up the question by using a comparison of Puerto Rico and Jamaica as a point of departure.
A comparison of Puerto Rico and Jamaica should be especially instructive, since the islands, despite having much in common geographically, historically, and economically, have evidenced highly divergent fertility patterns. As an example, in the period 1945-1949 their crude birth rates averaged 40.8 and 31.3 respectively, while in 1962 the differences were reversed -- Puerto Rico's rate having dropped to 31.7, while Jamaica's increased to 42.7. The former set of figures had probably been stable for some time, and our comparative analysis of the fertility of the two islands will concentrate on the earlier situation. Both the Jamaican census of 1943 and the Puerto Rican census of 1950____________________