Human Fertility in Latin America: Sociological Perspectives

By J. Mayone Stycos | Go to book overview

18
The Prospects for Fertility Control in Latin America

In the second half of the twentieth century, mankind has seen that for the first time in history rather precise control over both mortality and fertility was technologically feasible. Improved public health procedures, breakthroughs in contraceptive technology, and advancements in mass education techniques have brought the systematic control of human natural increase within reach. Continuing declines in mortality in Latin America suggest that one component of natural increase continues to be controlled; but there is little evidence of comparable changes in fertility. With the exceptions of Argentina, Chile, and, probably Uruguay, no Latin American nation has shown signs of a consistent decline in birth rates, although several have shown recent signs of increase.1 Is Latin America doomed to perpetually high rates of natural increase?

Since the present rates of increase could not be maintained for very long without increases in mortality, the real questions become not whether, but when and how. Essentially, we must answer two prior questions: Are the people ready? and, Will governments act?

____________________
1
For estimates of general fertility rates in earlier decades see K. Davis, "The Place of Latin America in World Demographic History," Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, XLII ( April 1964).

-291-

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