The Fertility Transition in Latin America

By José Miguel Guzmán; Susheela Singh et al. | Go to book overview
social groups and administrative divisions. This trend to uniformity began in the 1960s, with a noticeable contraction in differentials according to these characteristics, which has become even stronger in the past few years.Along with this trend to 'homogenization', there has been a shift of fertility towards the younger ages. The high rates among women aged 15-19 are particularly striking, and were only surpassed by the rates of women aged 20-24 for nearly a decade. Only during the last few years has there been a return to more traditional patterns, in which the highest rates are those of women aged 20-24 and 25-29 in that order.We may conclude from this analysis that by the 1980s Cuban fertility transition was very advanced, ahead of the rest of Latin America. This development is related to the diffusion of values and the building of attitudes caused by the process of structural change and modernization which Cuban society has undergone in recent years, based on the profound economic and social transformations which have occurred. The socio-demographic characteristics of this transition are associated with and expressed through such aspects as marriage patterns, birth regulation, and others, some of which show behaviour unique in Latin America, making the study of the Cuban experience particularly interesting. In fact, the overall Cuban marriage pattern is undergoing important changes in its internal composition which favour consensual unions among the younger population, and an overall increase in the dissolution of unions and in remarriage.On the other hand, the widespread availability and accessibility of effective modern methods for the regulation of fertility, have meant that a large proportion of women know and use the various methods of contraception, especially the effective ones. None the less, particularly among younger women there is need for more broadly based efforts which promote the timely use of contraception as an appropriate means of avoiding undesired pregnancies. Such efforts would help to reduce the use of abortion by this age-group.In summary, it may be pointed out that during the 1980s, in the final phase of the Cuban fertility transition, contraception has played a leading role among the proximate determinants studied, followed by the use of induced abortion, and by marriage patterns in third place. This suggests that the increase in consensual unions and in remarriage which has recently occurred will not necessarily have the same repercussions on fertility as it had in the 1970s, when marriage patterns were the second most important of the intermediate variables studied.
References
Alfonso, J. C., and Tozo, S. ( 1985), Evolución de la Mujer Cubana en 1984 ( Havana: State Statistical Committee).
Alvarez, L. ( 1982), La Tendencia de la Fecundidad en Cuba ( Havana: Institute for Health Development, Ministry of Public Health).

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