PS 5-61 - CANCELLED - Institutions to reduce fertility rates

Monday, August 8, 2011
Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center
Dr. Max F. Kummerow, Economics, Curtin Unversity, Perth, Australia and Vicki J. Watson, Environmental Studies, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

Countries where fertility has fallen have enjoyed dramatically better economic and health outcomes than countries where fertility remains high. Slower growing populations and higher incomes have also made environmental conservation more feasible and sustainable, while continued rapid population growth remains a major factor driving climate change, habitat destruction and species extinctions. An assumption of this paper is that demographic transitions result from various economic and cultural factors in combination with public policies.  


The paper reviews what policies have been effective in reducing fertility in various countries. Effective family planning ideally includes widespread access to birth control methods (pill, barrier methods, etc), safe and legal access to abortion (because all birth control methods have non-negligible failure rates, pregnancies occur when couples ill suited for parenting such as young teenagers do not use birth control, and pregnancies result from rape and incest), and sterilization methods for couples who have reached their desired family size. Ethical considerations arise when a fundamental human right—the right to reproduce—is enabled, limited or constrained by public policies or incentives. Abortion has also been subject to heated ethical debate. This paper offers a review of past policies effects, suggestions for ethical and practical principles that should guide policies to influence fertility decisions and ideas for design of effective fertility reduction campaigns. 


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