Study: “Population Programs and Reproductive Health”
PI(s): Das Gupta, Monica
Affiliation(s): World Bank
Institutional Partner(s): World Bank
Data Source(s): Previously Published Studies
Methods: Literature Review
Geographic Location(s): Cross-Country Analysis (Low-Income Countries)
There is a very large but scattered literature debating the economic implications of high fertility. This study examines three themes through a review of the literature: Does high fertility affect low-income countries’ prospects for economic growth and poverty reduction? Does population growth exacerbate pressure on natural resources? Are family planning programs effective at lowering fertility, and should they be publicly funded?
While policy and institutional settings are key in influencing the prospects of economic growth and poverty reduction, the rate of population growth also matters. Recent studies find that when the population of working-age individuals is higher relative to the population of dependents, when fertility declines, these conditions creates an opportunity for increasing productivity, savings, and investment in future growth. These studies find that lower fertility is associated with better child health and schooling and better health and greater labor-force participation for women. They also indicate that rapid population growth can constrain economic growth, especially in low-income countries with poor policy environments. Population growth also increases pressure on environmental resources. Studies highlight the deep challenges to aligning divergent interests for managing these resources. However, part of the pressure on these resources can be mitigated by reducing the rate of population growth. Although family planning programs are only one policy lever to help reduce fertility, studies find them to be effective.
DasGupta, Monica, Bongaarts, J. & Cleland, John. (2011). Population, Poverty, and Sustainable Development: A Review of the Evidence (World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5719).