Fertility rates are rather homogeneous in Cuba, but special attention should be paid to rural areas, experts feel.
Women in the countryside tend to have more children than those in the city (two to three each on average), according to a recent National Fertility Survey (ENF).
Conducted by the National Office of Statistics and Information’s Population and Development Study Center (CEPDE), ENF also showed that the rates are higher in the eastern provinces, including Holguín, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, and Guantánamo. They all exhibit low economic and social development indicators.
The survey also revealed that they are marked by consensual unions rather than marriage and by low condom use and abortion practices.
«Family members in rural areas tend to stay together,» said Jorge Gómez, a project developer and representative of the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) in Jiguaní, a municipality in Granma province.
«The factors behind low fertility rates and accelerated aging processes should be carefully studied,» stressed CEPDE specialist María del Carmen Franco.
The local fertility rate among women under 19 moved from 47.3 every 1,000 in 2004 up to 54.2 last year.
Santiago de Cuba, over 860 kilometers away from Havana, exhibits the third highest natural growth rate in the country, with a fertility rate among women and girls aged 10 to 19 standing at 57 every 1,000, according to a study conducted by Yenisei Bombino and Livia Quintana.
Bombino is a specialist working for the National Psychological and Sociological Research Center (CIPS), and Quintana is a researcher at the University of Havana’s Population Study Center (CEDEM). Their study focused on two male-dominated municipalities (Tercer Frente and Guamá), where such rates had stood at 92.8 and 58.5, respectively, in 2010.
«Research findings showed that these women follow traditional family patterns that have to do with limited personal growth opportunities and far-from responsible decision-making,» Bombino told SEMlac.
They usually stop studying, become single mothers, and live under poor housing conditions,» she added.
«Most teenage and young men are of the view that they should have as many children as possible,» she stressed.
Both Bombino and Quintana highlighted the need to provide teenage mothers with social support networks and implement intervention strategies seeking to promote equal opportunities for men and women in areas where male-chauvinistic traditions are deeply rooted.