Fertility Changes in Latin America in the Context of Economic and Political Uncertainty

Alicia Adsera, University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago
Alicia Menendez, University of Chicago

During the last three decades, fertility rates have declined sharply across Latin-America. These decades have also witnessed a high degree of economic and political uncertainty. Here we explore whether cross-country differences in the environment where childbearing decisions are made explain in part cross-country changes in fertility. To proxy for economic uncertainty we use unemployment and growth rates, changes in consumer prices and dummies for periods of high inflation. To account for political conditions we use measures of democracy, political unrest, and civil war. Control variables include urbanization and literacy rates, and access to electricity. First, we use a panel of 18 Latin American nations for over 35 years to study the fertility trends of different age groups. Second, we use Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Paraguay to analyze the effect of those aggregate conditions on the individual spacing of children.

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Presented in Session 138: Timing of Childbearing: Economic and Cultural Contexts