The proximate determinants of low fertility in Brazil

Type Journal Article - International Family Planning Perspectives
Title The proximate determinants of low fertility in Brazil
Volume 13
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1987
Page numbers 75-80
According to data from the 1986 Brazil Demographic and Health Survey, the nation's total fertility rate has fallen to 3.3 lifetime births per woman. While total fertility is fairly uniform throughout southern Brazil (from 2.4 to 2.6 births per woman), the rate is substantially higher in the northeast (5.1). A comparison with national census data indicates that Brazil has experienced a dramatic fertility decline since 1970, in every region of the country. Contraceptive prevalence in 1986 stood at 66 percent among married women 15-44 years of age, with rates highest among women in their early 30s. Female sterilization and the pill accounted for more than three-quarters of all contraceptive use, with female sterilization the leading method in almost every region. A comparison of contraceptive prevalence in four regions with rates from earlier state surveys shows that contraceptive use has climbed in each region over the last decade. Indices of contraception for earlier years and for 1986 suggest that in the past 4-8 years, a rise in the use of the more effective methods accounted for most or all of Brazil's recent fertility decline. Changes in the proportions of women married or in the ages at which they begin childbearing made no important contribution to the decline; neither did the duration of breastfeeding or of postpartum abstinence. Ideal family size has diminished in Brazil in recent years. The DHS data indicate that Brazilian women's average ideal family size is 2.8 children; younger women say their mean ideal is 2.6, whereas older women report an average of 3.5. More than 60 percent of married women reported either that they wanted no more children or that they had already been sterilized for contraceptive reasons. Despite high levels of contraceptive prevalence, however, the shift to a preference for smaller families has left eight percent of married women with an unmet need for contraception.

Related studies