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Date: Sat, 5 Sep 98 17:10:13 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: UNFPA Highlights New Population Trends In Latin America
Article: 42623
To: undisclosed-recipients:;;@chumbly.math.missouri.edu
Message-ID: <bulk.28418.19980906181601@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** headlines: 161.0 **/
** Topic: UNFPA Highlights New Population Trends In Latin America **
** Written 12:27 PM Sep 3, 1998 by econet in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 3:36 PM Sep 2, 1998 by newsdesk@igc.org in ips.english */
/* ---------- POPULATION-LATIN AMERICA: UNFPA ---------- */

UNFPA Highlights New Trends

By Daniel Gatti, IPS, 2 September 1998

MONTEVIDEO, Sep 2 (IPS) - A rise in the number of informal partnerships and in teenage pregnancy is one of the main trends documented in Latin America and the Caribbean by the latest UN report on the state of the world population.

Fewer and fewer people are raising their children within the institution of marriage in several regions, particularly Latin America and the Caribbean, stresses New Generations, a study by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).

An ever higher number of adult women are remaining outside the formal institution of marriage, and new domestic arrangements are arising, the product of developments documented since the early 1980s.

The rate of unplanned births to teenage mothers ranges from 20 to 52 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 23 to 41 percent in Asian nations like the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and 15 to 23 percent in north Africa and the Middle East. The report cites studies indicating that teenage pregnancy is on the rise in Chile, Mexico and Caribbean nations.

UNFPA also points out that minors under the age of 15 account for more than 40 percent of the population in 71 countries and territories - 44 of them in Africa, 12 in Asia, eight in the Arab world and the remaining seven in Latin America.

In the Caribbean, the population of a number of countries is ageing at a rate that sets them far apart from their neighbours in Central America, where the youngest age group makes up a large proportion of the population.

UNFPA's indicators of reproductive health show a birth rate of 130 per 1,000 teens aged 15 to 19 in Africa, 78 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 59 in North America, 58 in Asia and 28 per 1,000 in Europe.

But the rate varies in Latin America and the Caribbean from an average of 72 per 1,000 in the Caribbean to 75 in South America and 87 in Central America.

It also varies widely among countries in the same subregion. In South America, Chile and Uruguay are at one end of the spectrum with 56 and 60 per 1,000, respectively, and Venezuela at the other with 101 per 1,000. In the Caribbean the level runs from Trinidad and Tobago (60) and Cuba (67) to the Dominican Republic (91) and Jamaica (95).

In Central America, Panama (91 per 1,000) and Costa Rica (93) have the lowest rates, a far cry from Nicaragua (149), Honduras (127) and Guatemala (123).

High teen pregnancy rates have given rise to new kinds of domestic arrangements, such as children of teenage mothers raised by their grandparents, the report points out.

It also notes a high level of paternal irresponsibility, with the father often completely disappearing from the scene, failing even to contribute to supporting the family.

The proportion of adults living alone or only with their partners is on the rise worldwide, with the exception of Asia. In the Caribbean, the latest figures available, which date back to the late 1980s, indicate that an average of 15 percent of men and women aged 65 and older live alone, with Cuba (10 percent) and Guadaloupe (32) at the two ends of the spectrum.

Less than 10 percent of over-65's live alone in seven countries of Latin America, and over 10 percent in four countries.

The proportion of widowers, fewer than one-fifth of all men over 60 worldwide, does not vary widely between regions. But while 40 to 60 percent of women over 60 are widows at the global level, the proportion drops to around 30 percent in Latin America and several eastern European nations.

Latin America and the Caribbean, like the developing South as whole, have posted a slight but insufficient drop in population growth rates, says the report, which projects a total population of 689.6 million for Latin America and the Caribbean by the year 2025, compared to 499.5 in 1998.

The annual urban growth rate of 2.3 percent will be higher than the overall average of 1.5 percent in the 1995-2000 period. According to 1995 figures, 74 percent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean currently live in towns and cities.

South America shows the highest level of urbanisation in the region, 78 percent of the total population, followed by Central America (68) and the Caribbean (62).

But the urban population is growing fastest in Central America - by 2.6 percent a year for the 1995-2000 period, compared to 2.2 percent in South America and 2.0 percent in the Caribbean.

The most highly urbanised countries in the region are Venezuela (93 percent), Uruguay (90) and Argentina (88), and the least urbanised Haiti (32), Guatemala (41) and Honduras (44 percent).

Trinidad and Tobago is the regional leader in terms of the satisfaction of basic needs. Its entire population, 100 percent, was found to have its basic needs met, compared to 98 percent in Cuba and 97 percent in Chile. The lowest levels were found in Guatemala (34), El Salvador (40) and Haiti (50 percent).

Costa Rica leads spending on education in Latin America and the Caribbean, 19.1 percent of all state expenditure, followed by Ecuador (18.2 percent), Belize (16.8), Bolivia (16.6) and Panama (16.1 percent). UNFPA lacks data on 11 countries in the region, including Cuba, widely recognised as a leader in education.

With regard to public health spending, Costa Rica is once again in first place among the 13 Latin American and Caribbean nations studied by the U.N. agency, with 32 percent of its budget assigned to the sector. It is followed by Panama (21.8 percent) and the Dominican Republic (14 percent). Mexico (1.3 percent), Argentina (3.0), Paraguay (4.3) and Uruguay (5.0) showed the lowest levels of health spending.

According to the UNFPA, the lower emphasis on education and health is one of the reasons that Latin America and the Caribbean have failed to achieve economic growth rates as high as those seen in much of southeast and east Asia in recent years.

The report concludes that since both regions presented a high level of employment and declining demographic growth rates, by boosting expenditure on health and education Latin America and the Caribbean could have fuelled economic growth along the lines of the Asian tiger economies.