The Guttmacher Institute
has updated their estimates for global contraceptive services, putting the number of women around the world who have an unmet need for modern family planning at 222 million (up from 215 million). Authors Susheela Singh and Jacqueline E. Darroch, in Adding It Up: Costs and Benefits of Contraceptive Services Estimates for 2012
, also examine the estimated current costs of contraception
, cost of meeting the current unmet need
, and the money saved from having fewer unintended pregnancies. An estimated four billion dollars is currently spent on contraception in the developing world, and “the total cost of fully meeting the contraceptive needs of all women in the developing world with appropriate services would…be $8.1 billion per year.” Singh and Darroch note that there are substantial benefits to increasing access to contraception, including reduced infant and maternal mortality
and lower education and health costs as smaller populations put less strain on existing systems. They conclude that “the gains that derive from meeting the contraceptive needs of all women in the developing world more than outweigh the financial costs.”
How Can We Capitalize on the Demographic Dividend?, by Jean-Pierre Guengant of the Institute of Development Research, explores the connection between population age structure and economic growth in 12 West African countries (the West African Economic and Monetary Union plus Ghana, Guinea, Mauritania, and Nigeria). While much of Africa has recently experienced economic growth between four and six percent, Guengant notes it has been “too low to allow for any substantial increase in per capita income levels” due to continued population growth. And he suggests that projections of declining fertility in much of Africa are overly optimistic. “Contrary to popular belief,” he writes, “the demographic future of sub-Saharan Africa has not been written.” Guengant extrapolates his own fertility projection using data beginning in 1960. If fertility declines rapidly, he writes, the larger proportion of people in the labor force could increase the GDP per capita and drive up the standard of living.