Learning from Brazilian fertility trends
In Brazil things are getting better. In research work we have done here at the studio we observed that in contrast to the USA and Europe the mood in Brazil was pretty upbeat. It is important to remember that everything is relative and if your past includes violence and poverty and your present includes less of both things feel better. This is true of many regions of the world. I felt the same optimism and positive energy when in Bangladesh last year. This graphic, published by The Washington Post here, illustrates the dramatic decline in fertility rate across many Latin Nations. The Post comments: “In 1960, women in Latin America had almost six children on average. By 2010, the rate had fallen to 2.3 children.”
We know that fertility rates drop when people move to cities as they doing at a huge rate. 3% of the worlds population migrates each year, many of them from a rural to an urban life. What is now clear is that the combination of the influences emanating from urban life and the spread of modern medicine are changing the fertility rates even in rural communities.
These demographic trends are notably powerful and notably fast. They underpin many of the social transformations we witness around the world and offer insight into the fault lines of world culture. We can learn from this. There are driving forces at play that are more powerful than even generational differences in the way people think and feel. Older generation traditionalists tend to hold on to rural traditions which include a male dominated view of the social order. As women become empowered by living longer, having fewer children and benefit from the more open tolerance of urban life so we will see their voice become more significant in the worlds social narratives. Here is a good example: German Leader and I.M.F. Chief Split Over Debt and there are many more including the late great Wangari Maathi who brought her own female African perspective to the global conversation about the environment.
Fertility rates are precursors of social change. Look at the number of young women involved in social change across highly traditional cultures in the Middle East. This is in contrast to the old men fueling the conflicts. There is change, real change, occurring and data such as we have just seen from Latin America on fertility rates affects culture sooner than you would imagine.