International Sociology and International Sociology Reviews

Topic of the Month, March 2024

Women's decisions on motherhood’ is our Topic of the Month for March 2024. On this topic, enjoy Free Access to this article by Martina Yopo Díaz (Universidad Diego Portales, Chile) and Alejandra Abufhele (Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile) published in International Sociology, Beyond early motherhood: Trends and determinants of late fertility in Chile. Read on to know more about the authors’ trajectory and work.

Martina Yopo Díaz

Alejandra Abufhele

Why are you working on this topic? Could you share an experience, a fact or a person who made you get engage on that research?

M. Yopo Díaz: In the last decade, Chile has experienced major transformations in the field of reproduction. One of the most radical transformations has been the delay of first childbearing and the fact that an increasing number of women are becoming mothers later in life: the percentage of women having their first child after 30 increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 23.6% in 2018. This stark transformation in fertility trends was also part of my own story: while my grandmother had her first child at 24 and my mother had her first child at 26, I had my first child at 36. I could see both from interview data and everyday life conversations that the transition to motherhood had become a problematic issue for women from younger generations, who often struggled to decide if, when and how to have children. I became interested to further understand these trends and the forces driving them. Furthermore, while transformations in fertility patterns such as the delay of first childbearing were widely acknowledged and studied in countries from the Global North, they were quite novel in the Latin American context, which has been historically characterized by early family formation and high rates of adolescent childbearing. By focusing on the trends of late fertility, we could understand how reproductive changes in Chile were being driven by cultural changes related to autonomy and self-realization, but also emerging norms regarding womanhood and motherhood, and the precarious social conditions for having and raising children.

What would you emphasize about your academic trajectory? Can you highlight which have been your academic positions, universities, awards, departments and research centers please?

M. Yopo Díaz: Understanding the transformations of reproduction in Chile has been at the core of my research agenda for the last 10 years. While doing my MPhil and PhD in Sociology at the University of Cambridge, I studied changes in the transition to motherhood in Chile through the biographical narratives of four generations of women. As a Postdoctoral researcher at the Max-Weber-Institute of Sociology of the University of Heidelberg, I aimed to understand the social determinants of late fertility by comparing the cases of Chile and Germany. After returning to Chile and becoming an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Universidad Diego Portales, I have continued studying changes in reproductive patterns by empirically exploring women’s attitudes towards their reproductive futures and the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), vasectomy experiences of childless men, and (in)fertilities among young couples with no children.