The Fertility Transition in Latin America

By JosÉ Miguel GuzmÁn; Susheela Singh et al. | Go to book overview
partly the consequence of misinformation surrounding anything having to do with sexuality. These fears also arise from the central economic role which women play in the lower classes, the cost of regaining one's health in a context of high inflation, as well as the tremendous deterioration of buying power of the poorest groups. In this context, in order to ensure more egalitarian, better informed, and more effective access to contraception, it will be necessary to achieve profound changes in values and patterns that shape the sexuality of women in the lower classes.
Conclusions
Fertility in Peru declined at various rates among socio-cultural groups beginning in the late 1960s. Between this time and 1986, fertility declined by 36 per cent dropping from a TFR of 6.8 children per woman in 1960-5 to a TFR of 4.5 in 1986.
The process of fertility transition began in the upper and middle classes of the national capital of Lima during the 1950s, while in the lower-class urban sectors of the three natural regions it began during the 1960s; rural fertility, on the other hand, increased until the early 1970s and only then began to decline.
Fertility decline, especially in the lower classes, responded first to the process of cultural modernization which in little more than two decades profoundly transformed Peru from a rural, Andean, illiterate, and agrarian society to an urban, coastal, literate, and commercial one. During the second phase ( 1972 onward), the fertility decline was extended to the rural areas and intensified as a result of families' responses to the deep economic crisis which has been afflicting Peru since 1975.
No significant changes have occurred in nuptiality patterns and other results show that breast-feeding, while still an important determinant of fertility levels in Peru, probably has not increased in importance as the decline in fertility took place (chapter 6). It appears that the increase in contraception is the intermediate variable which has the greatest power to explain the drop in fertility. Total prevalence of contraceptives rose from 31 per cent in 1977-8 to 46 per cent in 1986, and prevalence of modern method use among women in consensual unions doubled from 11 to 23 per cent for the same time period. Abortion is also most likely to be an important contributor to fertility decline, but exact measures of its contribution are unavailable.
Regional differences in fertility levels are strongly associated with contraceptive prevalence, especially prevalence of modern methods. Given the major presence of traditional methods and their low effectiveness, fertility would have declined more rapidly and more equally if there had been a greater acceptance of modern contraceptives.
The low acceptance of contraceptive methods is due to cultural factors,

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