May 092011

Data from the 2010 census indicate that the fertility rate did not decline as fast in the last decade as previously expected. On the other hand, the actual reduction was significant and consistent with Mexico’s demographic transition which will lead it to zero natural population growth by mid-century. See our 15 May 2010 post: Mexico’s demographic transition and flirtation with overpopulation.

At mid-decade Mexico’s National Population Council (CONAPO) projected that the total fertility rate would decline to an average of 2.1 children per women for the 2010 census. The new census data indicate that the fertility rate for 2009 was actually 2.4 compared to 2.9 in 1999. This decline is still significant but not quite as rapid as previously expected.

Fertility rates vary greatly for different areas of the country. Like many other socio-economic variables, fertility is closely related to community size. It declines systematically with increasing community size. Rural areas (localities of less than 2,500 population) had the highest rate of 2.9 in 2009, equal to the national level in 1999. If this ten year lag relationship continues, we might expect the fertility rate in rural areas in 2019 to be equal to the 2009 national rate of 2.4. The fertility rate in rural areas declined the fastest in the past decade, a full 24% from their 3.8 rate in 1999.

Towns between 2,500 and 15,000 dropped 16% from 3.1 to 2.6. Small cities between 15,000 and 100,000 declined by 14% from 2.8 to 2.4, the national average. For cities of over 100,000 the 2009 rate was 2.1 (the theoretical replacement level), compared to 2.4 in 1999.

The Federal District has the lowest fertility rate by far, for example women between age 35 and 40 have had an average of 1.8 children compared to the national average of 2.5. Using this measure, other states with low fertility levels include Nuevo León with 2.3, followed by Baja California Sur, Colima, State of Mexico, Morelos, Quintana Roo and Yucatán with 2.4. The highest fertility rates are in Chiapas and Guerrero where women between age 35 and 40 have had 3.2 children on average, followed by Oaxaca with 2.9.

The demographic transition model and its application to Mexico is described in depth in chapter nine of “Geo-Mexico; the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico”.

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