This paper takes a comparative case-study approach to examine the social and policy correlates of fertility decline. The analysis compares fertility behavior across a mature and young cohort of women in Colombia and Venezuela, two countries that experienced rapid demographic change under dissimilar socioeconomic and population policy conditions. Based on the distinction between birth-spacing and birth-stopping behavior the analysis tests several propositions derived from the adaptation and innovation explanations of fertility decline. Results show that fertility regulation at low parities was largely absent among mature women in both countries, representing an innovative behavior among younger women. The introduction of fertility control, however, was highly dependent on women's socioeconomic position, particularly their educational and occupational characteristics. The strong family planning programs in Colombia resulted in a more rapid extension of contraceptive use, particularly female sterilization, and stopping behavior after two children relative to Venezuela. Results highlight the diversity of conditions under which fertility can decline in developing countries and the importance of family planning and other policy initiatives to understanding the different pathways towards lower fertility.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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