The Fertility Transition in Latin America

By JosÉ Miguel GuzmÁn; Susheela Singh et al. | Go to book overview
In its venture into the more qualitative aspects of women's experience of controlled fertility and increased labour-force participation, this review also yielded a few preliminary conclusions. The very limited information that is available on sexuality and gender relations suggests that increased contraceptive practice and labour-force participation do not automatically lead to improvements in these realms. Moreover, it is clear that maternity and child-rearing still occupy a very central place in women's lives, and that having fewer children than their mothers did is seen by many women less as an opportunity than as an inevitable and painful fact of life in the harsh circumstances of the moment.There is a danger that this review has been too negative. Perhaps, in a few years time, living standards will be on the rise in the region, and reforms in social policies will accompany the reforms in economic policy. Then, it may be easier for social scientists to point to improvements in the condition of women and children, and to relate those changes to the transformation in reproductive patterns that took place in the 1980s. Moreover, I may well not have done justice to the possibility that without fertility decline and the rapid adoption of modern contraception, the situation would have been even worse than it is. Yet, I suspect that when more is known about the social effects of fertility decline in Latin America and in other regions of the world, there will be ample grounds for revising the expected relationships. Furthermore, as these populations age in the next three decades, we will most certainly gain an increased appreciation of the costs of the high fertility that preceded the rapidly declining fertility that is the focus of this volume.
References
Balán, Jorge. and Ramos, Silvina ( 1989), La Medicalización del Comportamiento Reproductivo: Un Estudio Exploratorio sobre la Demanda de Anticonceptivos en los Sectores Populares (CEDES/29. Buenos Aires: CEDES).
BANAMEX ( 1989), México Social 1988-1989, Indicadores Seleccionados ( Mexico City: Departamento de Estudios Sociales).
Bongaarts, John ( 1987a), "'Does Family Planning Reduce Infant Mortality Rates?'" Population and Development Review, 13/ 2 (June), 323-34.
----- ( 1987b), "'The Projection of Family Composition over the Life Course with Family Status Life Tables'", in J. Bongaarts et al. (eds.), Family Demography ( Oxford: Clarendon Press).
Caldwell, John C. ( 1986), "'Routes to Low Mortality in Poor Countries'", Population and Development Review, 12/ 2 (June), 171-220.
----- Reddy, P. H., and Caldwell, Pat ( 1983), "'The Social Component of Mortality Decline: An Investigation in South India Employing Alternative Methodologies'", Population Studies, 37/ 2 (July), 185-205.
Coale, Ansley J. ( 1986), "'Demographic Effects of Below-Replacement Fertility and their Social Implications'", Population and Development Review, 12 (suppl.): 203-16.
Davis, Kingsley ( 1963), "'The Theory of Change and Response in Modern Demographic History'", Population Index, 29: 345-66.

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