The Best-Laid Family Plans

Family planning plays an increasing role in developing countries' declining birth rates

(RxWiki News) Birth control, as opposed to low fertility rates, may account for smaller families in developing, low-income countries, according to a new study.

Safe and effective birth control has led to smaller families, despite some researchers' claims that the desire for fewer children is a direct result of infertility.

Study leader John Casterline, director of the Initiative in Population Research at Ohio State University, said his research finds the decline in birth rates over the past half-century in developing countries is due to more success in controlling the number of children that couples want. His research analyzed data from 50 low-income countries from 1975 to 2008, all with declining birth rates. Casterline attributed these declines in part to the prevention of unwanted births (about 44 percent), the desire for smaller families (about 13 percent) and other factors such as women marrying later and having fewer children as a result.

Casterline said family planning is the only way to effectively curb population growth, which stretches natural resources.

About one in four women in Africa are currently married or in a union and have an unmet need for family planning, meaning they do not want children in the near future but do not use contraception. In Asian and Latin American countries, 17 percent to 18 percent of women have similar unmet family-planning needs.

The human population is set to peak at 9 billion by the year 2050. Currently we are at about 6,902,000,000.

Review Date: 
February 22, 2011