Fertility transition in Brazil in the twentieth century : a comparative study of three areas
The thesis discusses the main issues of demographic transition theory and uses this in a comparative analysis of fertility movements in three socio-economically different Brazilian regions over the twentieth century. The regions are the Northeast and the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. The analysis points to a clear movement towards smaller family sizes in all regions. The movement started early in the twentieth century (or before) among white women living in Rio de Janeiro. These women were probably the better off. This behaviour was followed by white Sao Paulo women after about two decades and by the 1980s had reached most women independently of socio-economic status. The diffusion of the value of a small family and the legitimatization of contraception as well as some adjustment to mortality decline seem to have played an important role in this process. Although fertility declined in all regions, a single pattern of fertility change, as delineated by the classical view of demographic transition theory, was not found. Fertility rates were always in movement, declining and increasing. The strategy used for the decline was, mostly, an earlier stopping of reproduction. However, later onset and longer spacing also became important, especially at a more advanced stage of the fertility decline. A clear and single association between socio-economic variables and family size was not observed. Each variable played a somewhat different role in the reproductive behaviour of the three societies. Mass communication contributed to the diffusion of the small family size value. The process of diffusion resulted in a separation of socioeconomic and intermediate variables. This points to the existence of a component of social pressure in the fertility decline. Indications of a continuation of fertility decline in the near future are present. However, hints of a convergence in fertility rates and their stabilization at replacement level were not found. Fertility rates may reach levels below replacement in Rio and Sao Paulo. Regional fertility differences are likely to continue. This suggests the presence of regional and individual preferences in the reproduction process or conscious choice along with some degree of institutional pressure.