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Popul Stud (Camb). 2011 Mar;65(1):37-56. doi: 10.1080/00324728.2010.530291.

Fertility changes in Latin America in periods of economic uncertainty.

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Office of Population Research, 347 Wallace Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.


We explored the relation between fertility and the business cycle in Latin America. First, we used aggregate data on fertility rates and economic performance for 18 countries. We then studied these same associations in the transitions to first, second, and third births with DHS individual data for ten countries. The results show that in general, childbearing declined during economic downturns. The decline was mainly associated with increasing unemployment rather than slowdowns in the growth of gross domestic product, although there was a positive relationship between first-birth rates and growth. While periods of unemployment may be a good time to have children because opportunity costs are lower, in fact childbearing was reduced or postponed, especially among the most recent cohorts and among urban and more educated women. The finding is consistent with the contention that, during this particular period in Latin America, income effects were dominant.

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