TABLE 7-12 Percentage Distribution of Spouse/Partner Age Differences, Among Women Currently in First Marriage, by Age (Weighted Averages)

Region

Population Represented

0-5 Years

45-49

25-29

Africa

Eastern/Southern Africa

79.2

47.4

51.9

Western/Middle Africa

66.9

29.2

31.7

Asia

South-central/South-eastern Asia

67.6

52.2

53.9

Former Soviet Asia

68.4

74.4

84.5

Latin America and Caribbean

Caribbean/Central America

21.0

63.3

61.3

South America

72.4

68.6

66.2

Middle East

Western Asia/Northern Africa

40.7

54.2

53.9

TOTAL

64.2

51.9

53.5

NOTES: All cases where the woman is reported as older than her husband are included in the 0-5 category. For source of regional groupings and population data for weighted averages, see Table 7-1. Further detail can be found in Appendix A.

there is an inverse relationship between the stability of marriage and the spousal age gap, then the mean age difference observed for women ages 45-49 who are currently in a first marriage will be lower than that for all ever-married women ages 45-49.

Comparing age differences among 45-49-year-olds with 25-29-year-olds indicates a narrowing of the gap over time, especially in Eastern and Southern Africa, Western and Middle Africa, the Middle East, and South-central and South-eastern Asia, where there has been a decline in the proportion of women marrying men more than 10 years older, and an increase, in Eastern and Southern Africa, in the proportion of women with an age gap of 5 years or less. Age differences, which were already small in former Soviet Asia, are also narrowing. As discussed above, it is likely that the table underestimates the decline in age differences, because the percentage of women ages 45-49 with an 11+ age difference is undoubtedly larger than observed.

That age differences are shrinking is a function of the fact that the pace of decline in marriage prevalence by age is greater among women than men. For example, in Jordan there has been a sizeable reduction in the age difference between spouses; only 11 percent of women ages 25-29 are



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