In Mexico, as in many other countries, ‘early’ motherhood is defined as a social problem and in some cases as a social epidemic. Looking at the experiences of young mothers and using health promotion materials and policy documents from youth pregnancy prevention programmes, this article explores discourses around youth and sexuality in Mexico. It argues that discourses that define young mothers and fathers as a social problem are closely linked to those that understand youth as a transition, where certain social rituals are expected to mark the entrance into adulthood. The article suggests that pregnancy prevention programmes reproduce chronological expectations regarding women’s reproductive experiences and gendered stereotypes of youth sexuality and parenting experiences. The article looks into the bio-power mechanisms that are displayed to normalize youth sexual behavior at the expense of pathologizing young mothers and fathers. Discourses that define youth sexuality as an individual and as a social risk tend to compromise the provision of effective contraceptive information that would ultimately aid in the prevention of unwanted pregnancies.
Background: The desire for sons has long been recognised as a significant determinant of childbearing decisions throughout most of South Asia. This paper provides an overview of the stated desire for sons and the manifestations of son-preferring behaviour in relation to parity progression and contraceptive use.
Methods: This paper uses the most recently available Demographic and Health Survey (or equivalent) data from five South Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. The extent of son preference in these countries is compared in terms of reported latent son preference as well as in terms of revealed son preference in relation to differential stopping behaviour, and choices about contraceptive use and contraceptive method.
Results: Parity progression is driven by son preference to some extent in all five countries studied. It is found that son preference is also a major factor in determining use of permanent contraceptive methods in every country apart from Afghanistan. The association is particularly strong in Nepal, India and Pakistan. Women with fewer than two sons are generally much less likely to use permanent contraceptive methods. On the other hand, son preference has little association with temporary or traditional contraceptive use in any country.
Conclusion: The desire for sons has a significant impact on fertility and contraceptive choices across much of South Asia, even in places where high fertility persists. Family planning programmes in these areas need to change deeply embedded attitudes in order to be successful. In Pakistan and Afghanistan in particular, future reductions in fertility could be hindered by high levels of son preference.
Stalls in fertility declines have been reported for countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Recent interest has focused mostly on Sub-Saharan Africa. This papers reviews past studies of fertility stalls and considers the implications of alternative methods of defining and measuring the phenomenon. It offers some reflections on the theoretical and policy significance of various attempts to identify and explain stalls.