Human Fertility in Latin America: Sociological Perspectives

By J. Mayone Stycos | Go to book overview

11
Contraception and Catholicism in Latin America

Catholic resistance to "artificial" means of birth control and a tendency on the part of Church leaders to extol the large family are among the explanations frequently advanced for high rates of fertility in Latin America, as well as for justifying pessimistic outlooks for the future of fertility in Latin American cultures.1 Recent studies in the United States have left little doubt that both religious affiliation and religiosity are important factors in fertility.2 Summarizing the results of their study of metropolitan mothers, Westoff and his associates write: "Religious preference …is the strongest of all major social influences on fertility. Catholic couples want the most and Jewish the fewest children, with Protestants in an intermediary position…. Catholics by and large appear to want larger families and they have them."3

____________________
1
The attitudes and behavior of Latin Americans with respect to the family planning issue are also of great importance to the course of Catholicism itself. One of every three Catholics now lives in Latin America, and in another forty years every other Catholic may be a Latin American.
2
The relation between religiosity and fertility variables in the United States is less clear for non-Catholics than for Catholics. See Gordon F. De Jong , "Religious Fundamentalism, Socio-Economic Status, and Fertility Attitudes in the Southern Appalachians," Demography, II ( 1965), 540-48.
3
C. F. Westoff, R. G. Potter, and P. C. Sagi, "Some Selected Findings of the Princeton Fertility Study: 1965," Demography, I, No. 1 ( 1964), 133.

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Human Fertility in Latin America: Sociological Perspectives
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