From the WASHINGTON POST:
Fertility rates have dropped in many parts of the world in recent decades, but something particularly remarkable happened to the once-prolific family across Latin America. From sprawling Mexico to tiny Ecuador to economically buoyant Chile, fertility rates plummeted, even though abortion is illegal, the Catholic Church opposes birth control and government-run family planning is rare.
A frenzied migration to the cities, the expansion of the female workforce, better health care and the example of the small, affluent families portrayed on the region’s wildly popular soap operas have contributed to a demographic shift that happened so fast it caught social scientists by surprise.
In 1960, women in Latin America had almost six children on average. By 2010, the rate had fallen to 2.3 children…
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EDITOR: The rate required to maintain a stable population, all other things being equal, is 2.1 children per family.
The Brazilian trend comes as no surprise to the Watchdog who, as an assignment in a graduate course in Economics, spent many hours over half a century ago in the lower depths of the Cal-Berkeley library rooting through the World Book of Statistics for a century to determine the annual birth and death rates in several ‘undeveloped countries’.
The results clearly indicated a population explosion as modern health care became available followed a generation or two afterwards with a rapid drop in the number of children per family.
Among other reasons, parents were more confident that their children would survive to help support them in their old age and population shifted to the urban areas so children were not required for farm work.. This ‘explosion’ followed by a continuing drop in birth rates over time has resulted in a birth rate level far below 2.1 in most modern countries, as low as 1.4 in some European countries.
My professor, Carlos Cipolla, was so delighted with the information that substantiated what he had theorized that he gave me an “A” without my having to write a paper on the findings. (It was the final days of my senior year.) He later published an important book concerning what became known as the ‘Demographic Gap.”