The Fertility Transition in Latin America

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

households.10 Although vaccination campaigns and preventive actions to improve child health have led to an important reduction in mortality risks, access to basic services and health care is quite limited. The form of economic and social development established in recent years finds its correlates in these patterns.

On the other hand, while the proportion of women in union has increased since 1976,11 the use of contraceptives and the practice of family planning among married women are still not well established. According to data from the NDHS, only 30 per cent of women in union are using a contraceptive method, of whom 12 per cent are using a modern method, and 18 per cent, a traditional method ( INE-DHS 1990: 43). Forty per cent of women in cities and other urban centres use contraceptive methods, while only 20 per cent of those in the rural areas do so, and most rural women resort to traditional methods (almost 15 per cent). Only women with a high level of schooling (ten or more years) practise contraception in large proportions, close to 55 per cent; however, the size of this population group is relatively small.

In the light of these background conditions, we have attempted to correct the fertility estimates and trends over the past fifteen years, to make them consistent and plausible in the overall context of Bolivian life. In 1985-90 the overall TFR in Bolivia was 5.6 children per woman. This rate is a weighted average of an urban rate of 3.9 and a rural rate of 7.0 (Fig. 20.11). The decline by approximately one child that has occurred over the past twelve to fourteen years does not appear to be the result of a continuous, uniform process, nor is it a result of a combined decline in fertility in urban and rural areas. Rather, it seems that there has been a significant decline only in the last five years12 and mainly in urban settings.13 However, we cannot discount the possibility that fertility has begun to decline, even if only slightly, in rural areas.


Conclusion

Most socially and economically underdeveloped countries are characterized by high levels of both fertility and mortality, which explains why demographic

____________________
10
Recent studies of the relationship between women's level of participation in economic activity and their fertility in major Bolivian cities have shown that women in unpaid activities had higher fertility than those not in the labour force, which would indicate that women experience little incompatibility between their reproductive and their productive roles. For further references see Tórrezet al. ( 1989).
11
The results of the 1988 NPHS show that the proportion of non-single women by age-group, with the exception of those under the age of 25 years, increased to a not insignificant degree, in both urban and rural areas. Likewise, the ratio of women in union to those not in union has increased in similar fashion.
12
Smoothing of the retrospectively estimated age-specific rates given in the NDHS report (table 4.2) confirms the finding that between 1973 and 1983 the TFR gradually declined.
13
The final report of the NDHS, published in January 1990, demonstrates that levels of fertility in Bolivia remained relatively constant until the period 1980-1984. It also shows, allowing for the difference between the mean number of children born to women aged 40-49 years and the TFR in the five years preceding the survey, that the declining trend has been more pronounced in the urban areas than in other sectors of the country.

-370-

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