The demographic dynamics in the majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries have experienced profound changes that have affected the population’s growth, age structure and territorial distribution and that could have consequences for designing and implementing public policies, according to the First Regional Report on the Implementation of the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development.
The document, produced by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) under mandate from the member countries of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, aims to record progress on implementation of the priority measures of the Montevideo Consensus, while noting the heterogeneities that exist between countries of the region regarding the degree of implementation. It also identifies the main challenges with regard to its implementation and highlights relevant national experiences so that countries can mutually benefit each other in their efforts to advance on fulfilling these measures.
According to the document, although the demographic heterogeneity between and within countries is very significant, processes exist that cut across the entire region and all of its countries. In this context, it is indispensable that countries take into account the consequences that the changes in regional demographic dynamics may have for public policies, mainly those affecting and concerning specific population groups – which in many cases are in situations of greater vulnerability – such as children, adolescents and young people, older persons, women, migrant persons, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant populations, among others.
The report describes the decline in mortality and the increase in life expectancy, which rose from an approximate average of 51 years of age between 1950 and 1955, to 76 years in the current five-year period.
It also highlights the contrast between the decline in total fertility in the region – which went from very high fertility rates in comparison to the global context (5.5 children per woman) to rates below the replacement level in the current five-year period (2.04 children per woman), a figure that is also below the global average – and the high rates of adolescent fertility, estimated at 61.3 live births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 in the 2015-2020 period.
The report indicates that the decline in fertility significantly slowed the region’s population growth, which nonetheless will continue to grow until peaking at 787 million inhabitants in 2060. In addition, the fall in fertility and the increase in life expectancy will lead to the population’s ageing: it is forecast that the population of people 60 years and older in Latin America and the Caribbean will increase at an annual pace of 3.4% in the 2015-2040 period.
The document also registers an expansion in intraregional migration and the persistence of territorial inequality, and it assesses the demographic diversity of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in a context of inequality.
Regarding regional follow-up on implementation of the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development, the report analyzes the progress made and the challenges remaining on each of the priority measures of this regional instrument, which countries esteem as the region’s most important intergovernmental agreement on matters of population and development.
In light of its findings and conclusions, the report makes clear that the region still has a long journey ahead in all of the areas of the population and development agenda. And that this will continue to necessitate a firm political decision by States that, among other things, translates into policies sustained over time which, in conjunction with a deeper rights-based and intercultural approach, will allow for making further progress and avoiding stagnation or backsliding.
The report was prepared by the Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Center (CELADE)-Population Division of ECLAC, with the collaboration of ECLAC’s Division for Gender Affairs and the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It was produced on the basis of information gleaned from countries’ official sources (such as national population censuses and national surveys), national reports on progress regarding implementation of the Montevideo Consensus presented by countries, country information systematized and compiled by ECLAC, databases of United Nations system bodies, the Global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Indicators Database, voluntary national reviews on fulfillment of the SDGs, and broad bibliographic resources on the distinct issues addressed.