The Fertility Transition in Latin America

By JosÉ Miguel GuzmÁn; Susheela Singh et al. | Go to book overview

Table 7.4. Latin America: teenage fertility and the % change explained by the changes in the proportion in union
Country ASFR 15-19 Change explained (%)
1950 1960 1970 1980 1950s 1960s 1970s
Argentina 62 61 68 77 n.a. 80 99
Brazil 83 83 68 58 n.a. 79 -184
Chile 84 85 84 69** 0
Colombia 91 91 76 66* 87 -57
Costa Rica 119 115 106 98* 80 -27
Cuba 65 120 138 68 n.a. n.a. 21
Dominican Republic 166 164 117 97 n.a. 34 102
Ecuador 140 140 121 98* 33 13
El Salvador 142 165 151 134 23 -11 -143
Guatemala 174 161 143 141 125 20*
Mexico 115 115 110 92 n.a.* 20
Panama 145 145 133 100* -101 48
Paraguay 95 95 88 82* 86 -324
Peru 130 130 86 85 n.a. -11*
Uruguay 60 63 65 63 n.a.**
Venezuela 155 155 116 94* 98 -39
Note: * = Absolute change in the teenage fertility rate lower than 5.

Conclusions

This chapter examined the role of marriage patterns in the fertility transition in Latin America. The evidence from census data refutes the expectation that, in the region as a whole, the role of nuptiality has been meaningful. There are, of course, a few countries where nuptiality has been an important factor for TFR decline, as in the case of the Dominican Republic. There are also countries, such as El Salvador, where increases in marriage prevented important TFR declines. But the most compelling evidence comes from the cases of rapid fertility decline, i.e. from Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, and Mexico, where nuptiality made only modest, if any, contributions.

The former conclusion has to be qualified when one speaks about teenage fertility. Changes in the proportion of teenagers in union in the 1960s caused, indeed, important reductions in teenage fertility in eight Latin American countries.

Prior to the onset of fertility transition, a clear regional increase in the proportion married took place, some of it probably caused by a reduction in widowhood. This trend translated in TFR increases of some significance in three countries. Dyson and Murphy ( 1985) have used some of this evidence to document their 'ski jump effect', which, they suggest, might trigger fertility transition.

The lack of identifiable regional upward trends in the age at marriage is a striking result of this analysis. This result is in accord with findings from the WFS that explicitly pointed out that 'in the Americas there is only a modest trend towards later marriage' ( WFS 1984: 14). Contrasting with this stability, celibacy clearly

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