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The social context and consequences of fertility transition in Brazil

24th October 2013 3pm, University of Southampton 58/1065

Andre Junqueira Caetano, Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Minas Gerais

The aim of this seminar is to examine the milestones of population change in Brazil that was driven by the fertility decline in the last 40 years. The decline was linked to industrialization, urbanization, expansion of education and of female participation in the labour market as well as to institutional changes - such as the expansion of public health care - that redefined values and attitudes regarding family size, sexual and reproductive behaviour. In the absence of government family planning programs until 1997 modern contraception was the main determinant of the decline and tubal ligation, the preferred method. The modernization process augmented socioeconomic inequality which, in turn, drives different reproductive strategies and productive opportunities. In 2006 42% of the women 15-19 years-old at the Wealth Index's bottom 20% were married as opposed to 5% at the top 20%. Despite the emergence of a 'new middle class' the average schooling years of those aged 25 years in the bottom 20% was 7.4 years in 2011 as compared to 13 years among the richest 20%. While the country still faces the demands of a transitional society, population ageing tacks on post-transitional needs. Public policies are crucial to face these challenges but considering the Brazilian decentralization context is central to grasp their potential and outcomes. Questions stemming from these issues set a collaborative research agenda whose outline closes the presentation.