Status:Closed    Asked:Nov 19, 2014 - 10:24 AM

Jamaica 2001: the percentage of never married is about half the women aged 40-49. Is this reliable?

This fact for Jamaica according to the Census 2001 seems strange as it ranks among the places where marriage rates are the highest (

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According to the United Nations' World Marriage Data 2012 report, in 2001 57.1% of women aged 40-44 and 48.7% of women aged 45-49 in Jamaica were single/never married. These percentages are reflected in the IPUMS-International data (with some possible variation from matching microdata to published figures).

This rate has increased from the previously reported years (1970, 1985, and 1995). It is actually the highest rate of single women for any country in 2001. Thus, it is not surprising that the marriages/year data that you link to shows Jamaica near the top and suggests the percentage of married persons may have rebounded post-2001.

Hope this helps.


Nov 19, 2014 - 12:08 PM

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To add a bit from the IPUMS metadata to the previous answer, note that there is a consensual union variable in the microdata for 2001.

1Yes, in consensual union22,170
2No, married30,785

In addition, please read the metadata on the IPUMS site, specifically for marital status, the comparability discussion for Jamaica:

Comparability — Jamaica [top]

In all samples, this variable records the formal marital status. Because cohabitation is very common, the percent of persons married is relatively low in all samples.

For additional detailed explanation, please click the metadata tab "questionnaire text", which shows that "never married" clearly refers to never _legally_ married:

top Jamaica 2001 — source variable JM01A410 — Marital status Questionnaire form view entire document: text image

[Questions 1.6-1.8 for persons 16 years old and older only]

1.6 What is your/ [the respondent's] legal marital status? For example, are you/is [the respondent] married, divorced, widowed or never married?

[] 1 Married
[] 2 Divorced (go to question 1.8)
[] 3 Widowed (go to question 1.8)
[] 4 Legally separated (go to question 1.8)
[] 5 Never married (go to question 1.8)
[] 9 Not stated Questionnaire instructions view entire document: text image

5.45 Questions 1.6-1.8: Marital and union status
[Persons age 16 and older. If, however, it is clear that the individual although younger than 16 years is married (as for example among Hindus), then ask the questions and make a note in the visitation record]

Marital status refers to the legal status of the relationship, while union status refers to the actual type of relationship in which a person may be involved. A man or woman can be involved in either of the following relationships:

(1) He or she could be legally married and living with the person to whom he or she is married.

(2) He or she could be living with a partner to whom he or she is not legally married. This is referred to as living common-law.

5.46 Question 1.6

Married: Score this for all persons [who are] formally married, whether or not they are living with the partner to whom they are legally married. In those cases where East Indians have been married according to the Hindu custom (that is, under the bamboo) or the Muslim rites, score whether or not the marriage has been legally registered.

The remaining four categories -- "Widowed", "Divorced", "Legally separated", and "Never married" -- are self-explanatory. Please note the following: (i) Married persons who are separated but who have not been through the courts are to be scored as married

(ii) A "Decree absolute" must be granted for the person to be considered divorced. .



Nov 19, 2014 - 12:23 PM

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