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Is Latin America starting to retreat from early and universal childbearing?

AuthorsRosero-Bixby, Luis; Castro Martín, Teresa CSIC ORCID ; Martín García, Teresa
Issue Date2009
CitationDemographic transformations and inequalities in Latin America: Historical trends and recent patterns: 219-241 (2009)
AbstractLatin America is quickly approaching fertility replacement levels. Although the pace of fertility decline has been uneven across countries, recent data show that more than half of the 20 Latin American countries had total fertility rates close to or below replacement levels by 2005. Until now, a distinctive feature of the process of fertility decline in Latin America was that it took place without major changes in the onset of family formation, as indicated by fairly stable rates and ages at first union and first birth. It seems, however, that Latin America has entered into a new stage of the fertility decline process in recent years. After decomposing childbearing into the contributions of (1) entry into motherhood and (2) children that mothers have, we detect a new fertility pattern in the region: the age-30 proportion of mothers, which had changed little in the past, has dropped substantially in Latin America in the 1990s, suggesting that the social imperative of early motherhood, which has long prevailed in the region, is weakening. The analysis is based on cohort estimates from the four waves of Latin American censuses between 1970 and 2000. In addition, surveys conducted in 14 Latin American countries in 2006 show a strong link between childlessness and higher education across several cohorts. We discuss whether the recent increase in childlessness reflects a shift towards later childbearing or whether it may signal an emerging retreat from universal childbearing in the region. In turn, the data show that the decline of fertility of mothers continues, although slowly.
Publisher version (URL)http://www.alapop.org/alap/SerieInvestigaciones/InvestigacionesSI1aSi9/DemogTransformations_ParteII-3.pdf
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