Applied Goals

My active research among the Tsimane is increasing our understanding of women’s fertility decisions and builds on theories of demographic transition, specifically Human Capital Theory, which focuses on changes in how resources are accrued and success measured. My studies are among the few able to investigate the effects of acculturation on fertility preferences and fertility over time and elucidate more fully why the demographic transition of so many Amerindians is not progressing as expected. In addition, my research cross-cuts disciplines and so contributes to demographic transition and reproductive health studies in demography, sociology and anthropology. This research is also of significance to policymakers concerned with promoting indigenous health and rights in South and Central America. Furthermore, my work on the long-term health consequences for women and their children of teenage pregnancy, and my future work on the causes of international migration and its effects on household security and dynamics, has immediate relevance to organizations and researchers that work with migrant and marginalized groups.

Findings recorded in the aforementioned papers will be invaluable for my work in Belize and my continued work in Bolivia. In both countries teenage pregnancy and high fertility are significant concerns within marginalized groups and poverty stricken regions. Furthermore, it is important to work with Tsimane’ women and women from other marginalized populations now, while they are undergoing cultural and socioeconomic change, as outcomes can be devastating for women’s and children’s health, women’s socioeconomic standing and cultural maintenance. Therefore, important applied goals of my current and future research are to help improve understanding of how family planning programs can garner community support and acceptance within such groups, and how they can successfully support women’s and their families’ desires for delayed ages at first birth and lower fertility. Furthermore, my work with the Tsimane will be summarized in Spanish as a book that I will gift to the Tsimane as part of a new family planning and reproductive health program I am building in collaboration with the Tsimane Health and Life History Project and Dr. Michael Gurven.