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Dual-Earner Families - Latin America

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaModern Marriage & Family IssuesDual-Earner Families - Asia And The Middle East, Latin America, Eastern Europe And Russia, Western And Southern Europe

Latin America

Mexico is the only Latin American country where research in the English language has been published, and therefore where the proportion of and experiences of wives participating in the cash economy can be assessed. Rural women in large numbers began working in the maquiladora industry in Mexico as it emerged in the mid-1960s. The typical household structure changed from a breadwinner-homemaker to an assortment of household structures, including female-breadwinner married couples, extended family households where individuals pool their incomes, and single person households (Cravey 1998). Some research suggests that in urban areas of Mexico, married women are not engaging in paid work until their children are old enough to care for themselves (Selby, Murphy, and Lorenzen 1990). Dual-earner wives in Mexico have noted that their marital relationships suffer as a result of their employment because it becomes more difficult to find time to spend alone with their husbands (Frankel 1997). Where married women are employed, there is a subtle change in the balance of power in the home (Cravey 1998). Women in dual-earner families generally have nontraditional beliefs about the division of labor in the home, but rarely have enough power to put their beliefs into practice (Frankel 1997).


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