Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Family planning programs have success in developing countries, but need to be expanded

21.02.2011
While many researchers generally credit the desire for smaller families for the decline in fertility rates in developing, low-income countries, new research suggests that prevention of unwanted births may actually be a larger factor.

The advent of safe and more effective birth control means that people have better control of when and if they have children, said John Casterline, director of the Initiative in Population Research at Ohio State University.

"While it is true that people now want smaller families, my research suggests a more important factor in the decline in birth rates over the past half-century is that people are now more successful than in the past in having the number of children they want," said Casterline, who is also a professor of sociology.

This fact has important implications on the effort by policymakers to limit global population growth in the coming decades, he said.

Casterline gave an invited talk on the contribution of family planning programs to stabilizing world population on Feb. 20 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

His talk was part of the symposium "Estimating Earth's Human Carrying Capacity."

Recent projections suggest the human population will peak at more than 9 billion people by 2050.

"The large increases in population that are predicted will only exacerbate other problems, such as resource depletion," Casterline said.

"We want to minimize the growth that occurs, and there is no viable way to do that except through more effective family planning."

Casterline said that the good news is that his research shows how the success of contraception has played a large role in the fertility decline in low-income countries, even more than the more widespread desire for smaller families.

In his analysis of fertility decline in 50 low-income countries from 1975 to 2008, Casterline estimates that about 44 percent of that decline is the result of prevention of unwanted births. About 13 percent was due to people wanting smaller families. The remainder was other factors, such as women marrying later and thus having fewer children.

"We are a lot more successful in family planning than we have ever been. It is one part of the whole medical and health revolution."

But the problem has been expanding that success, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where the needs for family planning are greatest and where future population growth is expected to be the largest.

Studies have shown that about one in four women (who are currently married or in a union) in Africa have an unmet need for family planning. That means that they report in surveys that they don't want any children in the near future, but are not using contraception.

In Asia and Latin America, 17 to 18 percent of women have unmet needs for family planning.

Just meeting this need could have a major effect on population growth. One study suggests that meeting the need for family planning could reduce the growth in population in developing countries by about 250 million people by 2050, Casterline said. There were slightly more than 4 billion people in developing countries in 2010, and one United Nations estimate puts the population in these countries at about 6.25 billion people in 2050. However, by meeting unmet demand for family planning, one estimate says that population will be held to about 6 billion people.

But especially in sub-Saharan Africa, there is also a need to generate more demand for birth control, he said.

Generally, women who don't want to use contraception have health concerns (such as fear of side effects), ethical or religious concerns, or are discouraged by others, especially male partners.

Casterline said effective family planning programs can address some of these obstacles, particularly health concerns.

"We commonly find in developing countries a belief that most modern contraceptives pose more health risk than either pregnancy or induced abortion, which of course is not true," he said. "We need to address those concerns."

The other major obstacle to wider use of contraceptives is simply getting supplies and services to women in places like sub-Saharan Africa.

"These obstacles to contraceptive use cannot be overcome without significant financial investment, and in the short run this will require international assistance," he said.

"It is distressing that international assistance for family planning has, if anything, declined during the past decade."

Research has clearly shown that international family planning programs are effective. Studies suggest that such programs can reduce the number of births women have by 0.5 to 1.5 over a lifetime.

"We know there are women in many parts of the world who would prefer to have fewer children. We need to do a better job in providing them the effective family planning services they want," Casterline said.

Contact: John Casterline, (614) 247-2519; Casterline.10@sociology.osu.edu
Written by Jeff Grabmeier, (614) 292-8457; Grabmeier.1@osu.edu

John Casterline | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>