Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Does economic decline lead to social breakdown or social breakdown to economic decline? 

Here are some thought provoking statistics about Venezuela given in Ultimas Noticias today.

In 1950 Venezuelan women had on average 6.1 kids (yikes). In 1960 that went up to 6.7 kids (double yikes). Fortunately, of late they've come more to their senses and have a more rational 2.7 kids. Still a lot though. And all those kids make Venezuela a very young country. This wasn't one of the statistics given but if I recall correctly the median age there is something like 22 or 23 years old. If you're 40 you feel down right ancient.

The number of people living in each household is 4.35. I would have guessed higher.

But here come the killer statistics. In 2004 only 17.8% of births were to married women. 57% were to women living with a man but not married and 19% were to single women (these numbers don't add up to 100%, maybe there are some where the mother's status isn't known). This means 76% of child births in Venezuela are to women who aren't married!! Quite a stunning statistic. But based on my personal observations in Venezuela this doesn't surprise me much. It is very unusual run into a traditional nuclear family in Venezuela - that is, a father, mother, and their biological children all together. In fact, I don't think I've ever met one. Further, it seems as though the vast majority of Venezuelans have half brothers and half sisters. That is women and men typically have children with more than one partner.

This is certainly very different from many societies, or at least certain social strata in those societies. I have no intention of trying to account for this or explain its significance - people who have ideas are free to share them in the comments. But these statistics do reflect on aspects of Venezuelan family life that can't help but be obvious.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?