LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
Fertility rate falls
Critical levels could be reached if the numbers of children per woman continues to decrease.
The fertility rate in Latin America and the Caribbean has fallen dramatically in the last decades though it has not reached the level of developed countries, where it is below the replacement level, estimates the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
However, many economists consider that if this trend continues, the region will face the problem of a large elderly population that is not sustained by a younger population.
Currently, Latin America and the Caribbean is experiencing what the Harvard economist David Bloom denominates a “demographic dividend,” defined as a period during the development of a country when the economically active population is greater than the dependant population, including children and the elderly. This period would last until 2025, when the number of older dependent adults will exceed the number of people of productive age.
Although only in Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, and Cuba are the fertility rates below 2.1 children per woman — the minimum needed to maintain the population — in the majority of countries in the region the number of children per woman has decreased by more than 60 percent since 1950.
A 2008 investigation by the Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Centre, a dependant of ECLAC, and the Ibero-American Youth Organization entitled “Youth and the demographic dividend in Ibero-America,” pointed out that to take advantage of the benefits of this period it is necessary “to adopt macroeconomic policies that incentivize productive investment, that increase job opportunities and promote a stable social and economic environment, propitious to sustainable development.”
Additionally, the study considers that “large investments in human capital, especially in education for youth” are required “so that the quantitatively older generations can also be qualitatively more productive.” —Latinamerica Press.
LATIN AMERICA/THE CARIBBEAN
Global fertility rate 2010 - 2015
Number of children per woman
Trinidad and Tobago