The Fertility Transition in Latin America

By José Miguel Guzmán; Susheela Singh et al. | Go to book overview

Conclusions and Discussion
Some of the principal findings of this study on adolescent fertility in Colombia are as follows:
1. Both adolescent and overall fertility in Colombia have declined. However, the decline has not been as pronounced among adolescents as among women in older age-groups. Among women 15-19 years of age, age-specific fertility decreased by 34 per cent between 1969 and 1986, while among women aged 40-44, it dropped by 67 per cent.
2. The ASFR among adolescents is about 78 per 1,000, similar to the rate observed in Brazil and Peru, but noticeably lower than that found in Mexico and Ecuador.
3. In spite of a decline in adolescent fertility in Colombia, rates continue to be high in rural areas and among women with little or no schooling (117, 127, and 174 per 1,000 respectively).
4. Women who begin childbearing during adolescence have less education as well. Among women 25-29 who began childbearing after the age of 20, three-quarters managed to complete the basic level of primary schooling. In contrast, among those who had their first child during adolescence, only half achieved this level and very few continued their studies at the secondary level.
5. Colombian women who start childbearing during adolescence have, on average, more children than those who postpone this step until a later age. Women aged 35-39 who bore their first child when they were adolescents have, on average, two more children than those who put off childbearing until after the age of 20.
6. Conjugal unions that are begun during adolescence have a greater chance of ending in divorce or separation. Among women aged 30-39 who entered a union before the age of 20, one-third had dissolved this union, compared with only 18 per cent of those whose union began after the age of 20.
7. It is young residents of rural areas and those with lower levels of education who experience the highest fertility, and who are most likely to begin their reproductive lives during adolescence.

The results of this analysis confirm in large measure many of the findings of previous studies carried out in other countries on the negative consequences associated with early childbearing. When the fertility trends of young Colombian women are compared with those of other Latin American countries, it can be seen that in Colombia, there has been a decline in fertility among all age-groups (including those aged 15-19), while in Brazil and Peru, adolescent fertility rates have risen, even though fertility has fallen among the overall population ( Singh and Wulf 1990: 62).

The number of births to adolescent women in Colombia has also declined, but as a proportion of the total number, births among women 15-19 continue to

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