According to experts at the Central American Population Center of the University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica has the lowest fertility rate in the Americas, with 1.3 children per woman, and even lower if migrant women are excluded.
“This level of 1.3 children is called ultra-low fertility, and if you calculate this rate only for the native population of Costa Rica, it is 1.1, which is even lower,” explains demographer Luis Rosero of the “Centro Centroamericano de Población.”
The expert adds that the indicator is from 2021, based on the latest data from the Birth Registry of the Supreme Electoral Court and the “Population Reference Bureau” (PRB).
On the continent, Costa Rica is followed by Canada with 1.42 children per woman, Jamaica with 1.44, and Chile with 1.45, while Ecuador has the highest rate with 2.05 children per woman.
WHY IS THE TOTAL FERTILITY RATE DECLINING?
What are the reasons for such a low birth rate in Costa Rica?
Is motherhood being foregone or postponed?
Economic constraints and personal development are among the causes cited by several experts and many Costa Ricans to explain this phenomenon.
According to demographer Rosero, this combination of factors is an alarm signal for promoting public policies- including gender equality policies – to encourage motherhood and reverse this trend.
“When there is gender equality, women take the risk of becoming mothers or even having a second child,” she says.
Ubaldo Carrillo, director of pensions at the Costa Rican Social Security Institute (CCSS), says the projections pose a challenge to the sector and the country’s pension systems because of the weight the older adult population will carry.
“The total population will not grow at the same rate as the elderly, but the elderly have a deliberate, real growth rate of more than 8% per year.”
The institute projects that the older population will make up more than 25% of the population by 2050.
According to Carrillo, older adults today represent about 13% of Costa Rica’s total population of nearly 5.2 million.