Low fertility and postponement of first birth in Brazil

Abstract Brazil is undergoing a process of birth postponement, which has contributed to the reduction of observed fertility. In this context, first births are crucial, insofar as the moment of their occurrence is related to subsequent births and to postponed births’ recovery potential. The objective of this paper is to analyze first-order births, taking into account Brazilian regional heterogeneity. We intend to enrich the debate about the future of fertility in Brazil. Data come from the 1980, 1991, 2000 and 2010 Demographic Censuses and the birth stories reconstructed from them, for the 1980 to 2010 period. Results show the persistence of regional differentials and point to (i) a scenario of postponement of first child in Brazil; and (ii) an increase in the proportion of childless women. If regional differences are reduced, postponement tends to increase and fertility levels tend to decrease further.