Economic Benefits of Women’s Choice Whether or Not to Have Children
In terms of addressing unmet family planning needs and population control, public family planning policies in India have had mixed success.
Choosing to be a mother and when to be is one of the most important choices a woman makes in her life. It has major implications – not only for a woman’s personal health and well-being, her independence, her career and her ambitions, but it also has far-reaching consequences at the level of the whole economy – in tackling poverty and income inequality in households, in realizing the sizes and a demographic dividend useful for economic growth, by targeting the youth bulge and the corresponding risk of social unrest and political violence , on the level of carbon emissions and in the fight against climate change, etc. Yet millions of women in India and other developing countries around the world are still deprived of this choice. 43.5% of the reproductive age population in India are still not using modern contraceptives for family planning (NHFS 2019-20), Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is still very high in many northern states of India – to more than 130 deaths per 100,000 live births.
In terms of addressing unmet family planning needs and gaining control over the population, public family planning policies in India have had mixed success. In fact, with the current population of 1.40 billion, we are on course to become the most populous country within the next year or two (China, by comparison, currently has around 1.45 billion people). population and is expected to continue to have low fertility rates in years to come). With effective family planning policies and practices having a significant impact on achieving each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the cost of any additional laxity in this direction is very high.
According to a study published by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, family planning is considered the second best investment for global development after trade liberalization – and “achieving universal access to contraception could bring health and economic benefits to term worth $120 for every dollar”. dedicated to family planning. In terms of achieving the SDGs, family planning has a direct impact on poverty, hunger, health, education, inequality – household incomes, especially for poor households, improving with costs of reduced health and not. dependents, and women should participate more in the labor force. Population control benefits the environment with reduced pressure on natural resources and reduced carbon emissions. At the macroeconomic level, lower fertility and mortality rates improve economic growth (and job opportunities) by taking advantage of the demographic dividend with the no. younger and smaller dependents in relation to the working population.
In recent years, the National Rural Health Mission (NHRM), 2030 Agenda of SDGs, Family Planning Summit 2020 and National Health Policy 2017 have had a major influence on public family planning policy in India. With the launch of the NHRM in 2005, female health workers at the community level embarked on individual-level communication for public health systems. Other political declarations stressed the importance of decentralization and community participation. Although the NHRM has had a significant influence on key family planning and health indicators, it should be noted that total spending on family planning has stagnated over the years. This budgetary allocation for family planning in national and state budgets must increase, and must in particular take into account the unmet contraceptive needs of the group of reproductive age. Access to reproductive health services and sexual health education for adolescents and adolescent girls also needs to improve.
In addition to contraceptive provisions and sexual health education, socio-cultural factors that influence fertility such as age at first birth and the gap between children, educating girls for maternal well-being and childhood, labor market opportunities for women, etc. should be better dealt with by politics. “The Cost of Family Planning in India” – a study by the Population Foundation of India, projects if proper investments in family planning are made until 2031, 1.2 maternal lives could be saved, 206 million Unsafe abortions could be avoided, a fifth of childbirth care costs and child hospitalizations could be reduced, and India’s GDP could increase by 13%.
The author is the founding Faculty of Economics of Plaksha University. The opinions expressed are personal.
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