A new article
in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization
concludes that higher fertility and lower contraceptive use among poorer segments of society should be considered an inequity—a product of the poor being prevented from achieving their desired fertility to the same degree as wealthier segments of society. The analysis conducted by the authors—Johns Hopkins’ Duff Gillespie, Saifuddin Ahmed, and Amy Tsui; and Scott Radloff, director of USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health—reveals that family planning can help level the playing field between rich and poor:
“Family planning…is an effective way for individuals and groups to lower their fertility if they so desire; and reducing inequality in access to modern contraception will also reduce the inequality in fertility… Our analysis suggests that looking at family planning and fertility through an equity lens is justified for those countries with joint inequalities in unwanted fertility and access to family planning.”ECSP held a meeting in January 2006 on a related topic—the impact of family planning on poverty alleviation. The speakers, George Washington University’s Thomas Merrick and Meg Greene, had recently conducted a study on this relationship and found that reproductive health interventions in poor populations have the strongest impact on overall health, followed by education, with household well-being the most weakly affected.
Merrick and Greene’s conclusions will be published in a forthcoming issue of ECSP’s FOCUS on population, environment, and security series.