National Geographic : 2011 Sep
who within two generations had crashed their fertility rate to 2.36 children per family, heading right down toward the national average of 1.9. at new Brazilian fertility rate is below the level at which a population replaces itself. It is lower than the two-children-per-woman fertil- ity rate in the United States. In the largest na- tion in Latin America---a 191-million-person country where the Roman Catholic Church dominates, abortion is illegal (except in rare cases), and no o cial government policy has ever promoted birth control---family size has dropped so sharply and so insistently over the past ve decades that the fertility rate graph looks like a playground slide. And it's not simply wealthy and professional women who have stopped bearing multiple chil- dren in Brazil. ere's a common perception that the countryside and favelas, as Brazilians call urban slums, are still crowded with women hav- ing one baby a er another---but it isn't true. At the demographic center Carvalho helped found, located four hours away in the city of Belo Hori- zonte, researchers have tracked the decline across every class and region of Brazil. Over some Cynthia Gorney reported on child brides for our June issue. John Stanmeyer documented sacred rituals for our single-topic issue on water, which won a 2011 National Magazine Award.