The first thing we noticed about women in Buenos Aires is that they’re beautiful. But soon after that we started noticing that a lot of them are pregnant. Everywhere we look there seems to be a pregnant woman, and maternity stores are all over. Other of our US friends in Bs. As. have made the same observations.
First we presumed this was the result of a higher birth rate. And, in fact, Argentina-wide 18.8 babies are born annually per 1,000 people, compared to 13.1 in the US. But the high birth rate for Argentina as a whole is largely a product of its poorer, more rural areas. As an example, the province of Formosa, the nation’s most destitute, has the highest birth rate at 25.3 babies/1000 people. When you look at just the city of Buenos Aires, the birth rate is a much lower 13.5. In contrast, the New York City birth rate is actually higher at 15.1 – so you’d think you’d see slightly more babies in New York City. Only you don’t.
(The birth rate for Gran Buenos Aires, which includes the suburbs, is 17.2 - higher, but still comparable to the NYC rate.)
So what’s going on here? We don’t have a good theory yet. Perhaps pregnancy is treated differently in the US; Maybe US pregnant women are more cautious about activity during their pregnancy, and sequester themselves in their houses at earlier stages of pregnancy? Or maybe the areas we frequented in US cities were disproportionately filled with single, childless people and so we got an inaccurate impression?
On a related note: the total fertility rate, the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime, is 2.4 in Argentina, more than double the rate for Spain (1.1) or Italy (1.2). Many Argentines can trace their ancestry to these nations, but more than twice as many children are now born here. In fact, the fertility rates in Spain and Italy fall far short of the amount needed to replenish their existing populations. Perhaps the tide of immigration will turn and in 100 years many Italians and Spanish citizens will trace their ancestry to Argentina?
There has been a lot of recent talk (in the papers, among people we know) of people leaving Argentina. La Nacion reported on Tuesday that 6,500 Argentine citizens emigrated to Israel in 2002 – the (largely) Jewish population that fled persecution in Europe is now fleeing economic crisis here.