In Latin America, Average Fertility Declines Mask Socio-Economic Disparities

January 11, 2016 • Daily Email Recap

In Latin America, an exception to falling birthrates draws new scrutiny
Dramatic progress has masked the fact that poor communities are lagging far behind wealthier ones in controlling family size – perpetuating inequality.
MEXICO CITY; AND RIO DE JANEIRO – Like most of her peers, Renata Stuart has – and wants – only one child. That’s a big change from previous generations: Ms. Stuart grew up in Rio de Janeiro with three siblings, while her mother had 10.
“I saw the effect it had on [my mother and grandmother’s] lives,” she says, as she totes her 3-month-old son around a buzzing children’s party recently. For Stuart, who is in her late 30s, completing her education and advancing her career were priorities
Across Latin America, the stereotype of the large, young family is being challenged as fertility rates plummet. Girls’ access to education has improved, greater numbers of women have entered the workforce and gained more control over their finances, and family planning methods have expanded in recent decades. In Brazil, one of the most dramatic examples, mothers now have 1.7 children on average – from 6.3 children in 1960. That’s lower than the US birthrate, and signals a shrinking population.

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