An application of the Bongaarts proximate determinants of low fertility for Brazil

S. Philip Morgan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Raquel Zanatta Coutinho, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
André B. Golgher, Cedeplar, UFMG

More than half of the world’s population lives in a country where fertility is below replacement level. Brazil is one of them. Total Fertility Rate went down from 5.8 children per women in 1960 to 1.8 in 2006 (Ministerio da Saude 2008). Some internal disparities exist, however, regardless of the low value at the macro level. For example, in 2006, while fertility was 1 child per women for those with more than 12 years of education, those who were illiterate had a TFR of 4.24 children. For women with per capita income equal to 1/4 minimum wage, TFR was 4.8, while women with per capita income equal to minimum age, TFR was already below replacement in the early 2000´s (Berquó e Cavenaghi, 2006). Other variations such as regional and racial differentials are also pronounced. White women had a TFR of nearly half a child less than blacks (TFT=1.53 for whites and 1.98 for blacks) in the year 2006. The Bongaarts Proximate Determinants of low Fertility (Bongaarts, 2001) is especially useful to analyze and compare factors associated with low fertility. Thus, this research aims at understanding fertility variation and its components across time in Brazil, shedding light on the factors that contribute for low fertility, how they vary by socio-demographic characteristics (race, education, geographic macro-region, and place of residence), and how these factors combined formed the total fertility rate throughout the years. In order to do that, we used Demographic and Health Survey data from 1986, 1996 and 2006 to decompose fertility rates using the framework of the Bongaarts Proximate Determinants of Low Fertility for each socio-demographic characteristic. We ultimately expect to be able to extend the literature on the Brazilian fertility transition and elaborate informed suggestions of public policies to address unmet fertility outcomes.

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Presented in Session 25: Prospects of fertility determinants worldwide