Sharp Drop in Fertility and Birth Rates in Argentina

April 11, 2022

In Argentina, the synthetic (or cyclical) fertility index continues to fall below the level that guarantees population renewal. The anti-natalist policies implemented in recent years – both nationally and in the provinces – are accelerating the decline in fertility and birth rates.

The Total Fertility Index (TFI) is the average number of children each woman would have at the end of her reproductive life. For a population to remain stable over time, without decreasing in size, the TFI should be 2.1 (assuming constant mortality and no migration).

Argentina's TFI is 1.54 for 2020, although it hasn't fallen below population replacement for a long time (2.1), the fall has been steep since 2014 when the number of births began to drop drastically. Argentina's TFI fell by 35% between 2014 and 2020, more than between 1980 and 2014.

In 2014, Cristina Fernández's Ministry of Health included the implant – a long-acting contraceptive intended for adolescents and young people – in the basket of medicines distributed under the Remediar program. The same ministry – with “technical support” from the local family planning affiliate – drafted the Abortion Protocol in 2015.

In 2017, the Cambiemos government implemented the ENIA plan to reduce teenage pregnancies. In 2018, Macri opened the legislative debate on abortion and although it was unsuccessful, it produced a cultural shift that increased demand. Simultaneously, ANMAT approved the use of misoprostol as an abortifacient and authorized its sale in pharmacies.

During the year 2020, Alberto Fernández paralyzed everything except the so-called “reproductive health.” Shortly after the start of the strict confinement, Juan Carlos Escobar, coordinator of the adolescent sector of the Ministry of Health, announced that access to contraceptives and abortion were “essential services” which escaped restrictions imposed by Covid.

The future will show the impact that the abortion law – assented to at the end of 2020 – has had on fertility and birth rate indicators. To this will be added new forms of distribution of “reproductive health” products in order to respect what the Population Fund calls the “last mile” guarantee, i.e. the actual delivery of products to users.

The total fertility rate fell by 55% between 1980 and 2020, the drop was much more marked from 2014.

Argentina's TFI is similar to that of Cuba, where it fell to 1.52 in 2020, except that in Cuba the average number of children per woman has been below replacement level since 1978. The fall in Argentina is much more accelerated. On the other hand, the population density of Cuba is six times greater than that of Argentina.

It is also similar to that of European countries which, being less extensive, have implemented policies promote birth, but in Argentina there are only “gender policies.”