Publisher/Institution: University of Michigan
Abstract: In the mid-1990’s President Fujimori of Peru initiated an aggressive family planning program with the stated purpose of reducing widespread poverty. While female sterilization was an official element of the program, anecdotal evidence suggests that health workers were given large sterilization quotas and reportedly used bribes, coercion, and even force to meet them. While the details of the program were not public, the Peruvian Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) provide evidence of a large increase in sterilizations during the suspected program window. We address three research questions: First, who was affected by the sterilization campaign? Second, what was the impact of the campaign on fertility? Third, what, if any, impact did the campaign have on household well-being? While the DHS provides information on numbers and timing of sterilizations, it does not directly state who was sterilized due to the Fujimori campaign and who would have chosen sterilization in the absence of the policy. We use a rich set of controls from the DHS with a reweighting procedure modified to account for this “contaminated” treatment group. We find substantial impacts of the campaign on fertility, but small or insignificant impacts on other household outcomes including mother’s employment and child health and education. Despite a documented unmet need for contraception, we conclude that lower fertility is not associated with improvements in household welfare when sterilizations are forced.