Human Fertility in Latin America: Sociological Perspectives

By J. Mayone Stycos | Go to book overview

2
Population Problems in Latin America: A Hemispheric Perspective

During World War I, a phrase was born which still has an impact partly based on numbers: "Forty million Frenchmen can't be wrong." The saying has a logic all its own based on the glory and power of France and its many millions of citizens (the French population was more than four times greater than that of England at the time of its industrial revolution). How does forty million sound today, in the midst of spectacular world population increase?

In the past 25 years ( 1940-1965) Brazil has added forty million people to its population, and in the next 15 years will add that many more. Latin America as a whole will add three times this number to its population in the next 15 years. Or to move the comparison from France to the Iberian Peninsula, every five years Latin America is adding the population of Spain, and every four years Brazil is adding another Portugal. So rapid is the growth that by the end of the century there will be almost nine Latin Americans living for every one who was living in 1920, and the increase alone in the 80-year period (650 million) will exceed the present combined population of India and Pakistan.

The implications of such growth rates can be seen more clearly if we consider one country as an example. The Republic of EL Salvador, the smallest of the Latin American nations, is also the most densely settled. With nearly three million people living on 21,000 square kilometers, it is one of the few nations in our

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Human Fertility in Latin America: Sociological Perspectives
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