Household structure of older persons in Latin America and the Caribbean

Esteve y Zueras


Analyze cohabitation patterns in the population over 60 years of age living in private households in 23 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Cross-sectional study based on the most recently available census microdata from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS, International), corresponding mainly to the 2010 census. Average number of household members, age distribution, and family relationships were calculated and compared for each country and by sex. The average number of household members was compared, by country and by sex, in relation to level of schooling and marital status.


The average number of people that older people live with differs between countries, ranging from two or less in countries such as Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay, to four or more in countries such as Honduras and Nicaragua. This difference depends on a greater or lesser presence of young adults, children, and other family members in the household. The number of household members declines with a higher level of schooling, except in Cuba and Puerto Rico, where no differences are observed. In general, older women live in households with fewer people than men, although this is not the case for unmarried or divorced people.


In the Region, it is common for older persons to live with children and other family members. The differences between countries and by educational level show that the family plays an important role in social protection of the elderly in less developed countries and in the least educated groups.

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