Family Traditions in Chile

Family life plays an important role in Chilean society.  While couples are expected to start their own families, they remain in close contact with other family members.  It is also common for children to live with relatives for educational and other purpose for periods of time.  Extended family ties provide a network of support especially during times of family crisis.  Extended families generally remain close and often meet together for family gatherings and holidays.  Also many small companies are mainly family run.


Chilean society regards marriage as a rite of passage.  Chileans believe that a wedding is not complete without a church ceremony.  Chileans are free to marry whoever they want but many tend to marry someone who shares their common social and educational background. 

Weddings generally aren’t elaborate and wedding parties are normally organized at the home or held in a small hall near the church.  Chileans tend to marry in their early to mid twenties and begin having children soon after marriage.  According to Every Culture, Chileans have conventional views about premarital sex, and living together before marriage is still relatively rare.  Due to the political and religious influence of the Roman Catholic Church, Chile is the only country in Latin America that does not have a divorce law.  If a couple wants to end their marriage, they can request an annulment.  This may be costly; therefore many Chileans informally terminate their marriage.  However, this may prevent them from remarrying under Chilean law.

Gender Roles

Traditional gender roles in Chilean society are breaking down as women gain more access to education.  In addition, more women are entering the workforce.  In Jone Johnson Lewis’ article “Chile-Family and Gender Roles” states that by 1990, about half of the students who were enrolled in primary and secondary schools were female.  Also 44% of the enrollment of higher education were women. 

Family Role in Chile

The nuclear family is the dominant in Chilean culture.  The majority of the population lives with their family while only 8.1 percent live alone.  In recent decades, family size has decreased.  The average household consists of four people.  Every Culture also states that 79% of the household authority is held by men; while female led households are mostly found in the low income sectors of society.  Attitudes towards the traditional roles of men and women in Chilean society has seemingly moving away from tradition. 


Johnson-Lewis,  Jone.  “Chile-Family and Gender Issues.”  About.  (Accessed May 25, 2011).

“Chile.”  Every Culture.  (Accessed May 25,2011). 

“Chile-Language, Customs, Culture, and Etiquette.”  Kwintessential. (Accessed May 25,2011).