Volume 35 - Article 46 | Pages 1343–1372  

Fertility and the changing pattern of the timing of childbearing in Colombia

By Ewa Batyra

Abstract

Background: According to the latest 2010 CDHS, Colombia’s total fertility rate (TFR) reached the level of 2.1. Studies show that the long-observed early childbearing pattern there might be changing, in particular for highly educated women, yet detailed analysis of timing of motherhood by birth order is lacking. In low fertility contexts, changes in the timing of childbearing are vital for interpreting period fertility measures and anticipating future trajectories.

Objective: To study the fertility trend in Colombia since 1990 and examine how the timing of childbearing changed by birth order and across cohorts. The relationship between education and timing of motherhood is analysed in depth across cohorts.

Methods: To analyse the trend in fertility and timing of childbearing, order-specific mean age at birth and tempo-adjusted TFR are calculated using CDHS. Discrete-time logit models are fitted to study the transition to first and second births across cohorts and educational groups.

Results: Opposing trends in the timing of first and second births are found, with early transition to motherhood existing alongside postponement of second births. This process and the documented halt to the decrease in the age at first birth contribute to the end of the inflating effect of childbearing timing changes on TFR. Multivariate analysis reveals that norms relating to later transition to motherhood are emerging not only among women with university education but also among women with lower educational levels. Postponement of second births is observed in all educational strata.

Conclusions: With continuation of the documented trends, a depressing effect of the changes in the timing of childbearing on TFR could be expected in Colombia, possibly bringing it to below replacement level.

Author's Affiliation

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