Consensual Union and Marriage in Brazil, 1970–2010. Gender Equality, Legal Issues and Social Context

Benoit Laplante , Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS)
Joice Melo Vieira, Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP)
Graziela Farina Ramos, Universidad Estatal de Campinas

In Brazil as elsewhere in Latin America, consensual union has become common over the last decades, in the working class and also in the middle class. However, unlike in most other countries in the region, under current Brazilian law, most of the civil effects of marriage apply to consensual union. We study the choice between marriage and consensual union in the Brazilian context using data from the five Brazilian censuses carried out between 1970 and 2010. Overall, our results suggest that in the Brazilian legal context, where the law imposes by default upon marriage as well as consensual union the statutory matrimonial regime in which all acquisitions are deemed common, and where married couples may opt to organize their economic relations under different legal property regimes, marriage may be almost as effective a framework as consensual union for the economic independence of the partners.

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 Presented in Session 21. Public Policy, Normative Values, and Cohabitation