Giving Compass’ Take:
• Research found that the high fertility rate in African women negatively affects economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa. The author explains why investing in family planning is necessary to strengthen economic growth and relieve poverty.
• How can local organizations encourage African women to participate in services centered around family planning?
• Read about other recommendations from RAND as to how to achieve family planning.
Over the past 50 years, fertility has declined in most developing countries but remains high in much of sub-Saharan Africa, averaging 5.2 children per woman in her lifetime. Several factors contribute to this high fertility rate, such as poverty, low education, and high child mortality.
Family planning advocates link high fertility to harming women’s health and limiting their ability to work and thus limiting their ability to contribute to household income and national economic development.
This working paper presents selected research findings on the effect of family planning outcomes on women’s labor force participation in nonagricultural work, an important component of economic development. Results suggest that closely spaced births and a high number of young children reduce the potential of African economies to grow, thus highlighting the importance of investing in family planning to promote economic growth.
The research findings indicate that each additional young child that a woman has reduces the likelihood that she will engage in paid employment. The results further indicate that short birth spacing (the time between pregnancies) also decreases the likelihood that a woman will work outside the home for income.
Investments in family planning must increase for countries in Africa to economically benefit from reduced fertility. Good family planning programs:
- Offer women the possibility to avert unintended pregnancies and childbirth, which often limit educational development;
- Allow families to achieve their desired family size, which facilitates their potential to make savings and investments;
- Improve the health of women, which enables them to remain involved in economic activities
Read more about family planning at the Population Reference Bureau.
Additional funding toward investments in reproductive health, especially family planning by individual countries as well as development partners, will help households rise out of poverty and will help accelerate economic growth across Africa.