Health and demography of a native Amazonian population, 1964-2009

Warren M Hern, University of Colorado at Boulder

A study of the health effects of cultural change among the Shipibo of the Peruvian Amazon begun in 1964 and 1969 observed the highest fertility of any human group in the principal study village. The Total Fertility Rate and Gross Reproduction Rate was 9.935 and 4.933, respectively, with an intrinsic Rate of Natural Increase of 4.89% per year. A subsequent study of family patterns in 1983-84 showed that a cultural change resulting in a declining prevalence of polygyny and number of polygynous birth intervals had a strong effect on increasing individual and community fertility, with rapid population growth leading to an increased rate of cultural change. A positive feedback loop had been established with cultural change leading to higher rates of fertility and population growth and rapid growth contributing to urbanization and more rapid cultural change. Continuing demographic research indicates declining fertility rates, declining health, and emigration to urban centers.

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Presented in Session 54: The demography of indigenous populations