Why Is Fertility Still So High in Guatemala?
Sofie De Broe, University of Southampton
Andrew Hinde, University of Southampton
Jane Falkingham, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
The total fertility rate (TFR) in Guatemala, at 5.0 children per woman, is the highest of any Latin American country. In particular, Guatemala's urban TFR of 4.1 (Demographic and Health Survey 1998-99) contrasts with urban TFRs in neighbouring El Salvador (2.8), Nicaragua (2.6) and Honduras (3.3). This study aims to answer the question why the TFR, and especially urban fertility in Guatemala, remains so high. The analysis uses data from three different Demographic and Health Surveys (1987, 1995-96 and 1998-99) to chart the evolution of Guatemalan fertility during the past 25 years. We then examine local variations in urban fertility using individual-level data from the 2002 census for Guatemala city, representing over one fifth of the country's population. Our hypothesis is that Guatemala's high fertility is related to its cultural heterogeneity, which creates barriers that prevent the diffusion of knowledge and attitudes favouring modern reproductive behaviour and fertility decline.