Summary

This article summarizes the results of a pretest to measure the fertility attitudes, knowledge, and behavior of a typical rural population in Latin America. The data were collected from a representative sample of seventy-one womenlivingin thefarming areasurrounding Colina, a small town 25 kilometers north of Santiago, Chile. The respondents were women living in the households of sharecroppesr or permanent hired hands or day wage workers on the plantations (fundos); a few were wives of unskilled laborers employed at loading gravel.

The educational level was about second year of primary school, and the average family income was about 30 U.S. dollars per month. Almost all were bornin rural areas and had little contact with the city. It proved to be surprisingly easy to obtain the desired information from the respondents. The results are presented in a series of “bilingual” statistical tables, with English translations on the right side. In general, the picture that emerged is similar to that found in similar inquiries in other countries: very high actual fertility coupled with stated preference for much lower fertility.

Although knowledge of fertility control is very limited, a substantial percentage of the couples is making efforts to control fertility using ineffective methods. About one-half are in favor of abortion and indicate that they would use it if no other method were available and abortion were legalized. Almost a universal desire to learn more about fertility control was expressed. Althoughany of several alternative methods of educating themwere acceptable toa majority, there wasa preference for individual visits in homes.

In as much as this is only a pretest study of one tiny area, it can be only broadly suggestive of the situation in rural areas generally in Latin America. However, the fact that the data were obtained readily and with apparent validity leads to a recommendation that a major program of rural fertility studies in all nations of Latin America be undertaken.

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