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The Population of the Central American Isthmus in 2003 Conference Papers

The California Center for Population Research is a multidisciplinary Center for demographic research and graduate training. Founded in 1998, the Center is a cooperative venture of UCLA faculty from a variety of disciplines, including Economics, Geography, Medicine, Public Health, Public Policy, and Sociology. The Center receives financial support from the UCLA College of Letters and Sciences and from faculty research grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Donald Treiman, Director
Lucy Shao, Assistant Director of Administration
UCLA
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Box 951484
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Cover page of Fertility and the Environment in a Natural Resource Dependent Economy: Evidence from Petén, Guatemala

Fertility and the Environment in a Natural Resource Dependent Economy: Evidence from Petén, Guatemala

(2005)

This paper examines potential relations between factors related to fertility and the access to and use of natural resources in Petén, Guatemala. The Petén forms the heart of the Selva Maya, the largest lowland humid forest in Mesoamerica. The rapid inmigration of subsistence maize farmers has converted much of the Petén’s forests to agricultural fields. Population dynamics have been transformed in that virtually all farm families have arrived since the 1970s and that total fertility rates exceed the national rural mean. Continued migration, exceptionally high fertility, a youthful population, and a large consumer to producer ratio are hypothesized to be related to the dramatic land cover dynamics shaping the landscape of the Petén. An emerging body of literature suggests that environmental factors can affect fertility decision-making and behaviors, especially in natural resource dependent economies like that of the Petén. This paper examines these relationships using data from the 1998/99 Demographic Health Survey in Guatemala. Data on natural resource access and utilization were collected as part of an environment module, in addition to demographic and health information. This dataset, the first ever environmental module of the Demographic Health Survey, provides a unique opportunity to examine possible relationships between fertility and the environment in a tropical agricultural frontier.

Cover page of Impact of Formal Education of Women on Reproductive Behavior in Four Socio-Cultural Contexts in the Soconusco Region of Chiapas (Translation of Spanish Version)

Impact of Formal Education of Women on Reproductive Behavior in Four Socio-Cultural Contexts in the Soconusco Region of Chiapas (Translation of Spanish Version)

(2005)

This paper analyzes demographic changes that occurred between 1977 and

1996, in four socio-cultural contexts in the Soconusco Region of Chiapas, Mexico. It is

based on a socio-demographic random sample survey that compiled primary (1139

household groups) and secondary (population and agricultural census) information.

The results based on cohort analysis provide evidence for the existence of

various fertility trends among the different socio-cultural contexts. In average urban

settlements, fertility has remained low stable, and in rural indigenous settlements it has

also remained stable, but high. Only in rural mestizo and marginal urban communities

have there been overall and significant fertility declines. In marginal urban settlements,

in spite of showing a generalized fertility decline, adolescent fertility has increased.

These trends are closely related to the changes in schooling levels achieved by

females, particularly with secondary or higher education, as well as with modifications in

the age at first union. There has been a reduction in the proportion of women

completing secondary education in all of the socio-cultural contexts, which goes handin-

hand with the economic polarization of the region.

Based on models of impact evaluation, it is possible to conclude that due to the

characteristics of the Soconusco “with elevated macroeconomic development and deep

social polarization”, the State’s efforts must be primordially oriented to improving the lot

of the population, especially with regards to average education of women.