Fertility and Family Planning
A number of studies show that Haiti's fertility rate declined significantly from the early 1960s to the early 1980s. As was true in other countries, there appeared to be a correlation among declining fertility rates, urban residence, and literacy. The 1977 Haitian Fertility Survey found that between 1962 and 1977, the fertility rate of urban literate women declined by 33 percent. In contrast, the rate for rural illiterate women declined by only 7 percent during the same period. Moreover, the fertility rate of literate rural women declined by 27 percent, while that of illiterate urban women declined by 15 percent.
Haitian women interviewed in the 1977 survey indicated that they desired between three and four children, but at that time, the average woman had more than five children.
Expressed desire for family planning services exceeded available programs, and many women lacked access to modern contraceptives and birth-control information. The survey found that, despite the widespread desire for fewer children, only 7 percent of women of childbearing age were using modern contraceptives. Haitian men traditionally shunned the use of condoms. The fertility survey reported a condom-use rate of only 1 percent. The absence of more recent surveys made it impossible to determine whether or not condom use had risen in response to the high incidence of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in Haiti.
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