|The Value of Family Planning Programs in Developing Countries (RAND, 1998, 98 p.)|
Over the past 10 years, demographic research has produced important scientific findings on social issues of global importance, such as meeting the demand for contraception, managing immigration, reducing poverty, and anticipating the consequences of population aging. Regrettably, this research is rarely noticed by or accessible to policymakers, the media, and the general public when relevant policy deliberations occur. Frequently, the research is addressed only to scholarly audiences, and researchers seldom explain the implications of their work for policy development and implementation. All too often, the results are missed opportunities to inform policy debates with scientific information.
As a step toward addressing this problem, RAND has begun Population Matters, a program to synthesize and communicate the policy-relevant results of demographic research. Using a variety of approaches and formats, the program is attempting to reach audiences that make and influence population policy in the United States and abroad. The products will attempt to balance scientific rigor with accessibility.
The first issue we chose to examine was family planning in developing countries. Family planning programs have been in place for more than 30 years in many regions of the world. In the industrial nations whose donations and technical assistance support these programs, they have been relatively noncontroversial and have enjoyed broad political support throughout most of their history. However, in recent years, donor-nation support has shown signs of weakening. In the United States, traditionally the leading supporter of these programs, sharp ideological debates have surrounded the subject, and Congress has reduced program funding.
Among the issues that Population Matters has chosen to study, family planning is somewhat unusual in that there is a substantial amount of research and factual information on the subject that is specifically addressed to policymakers. However, much of the existing material is likely to be viewed skeptically by policy audiences. Much of it is associated with advocacy groups or an ideological point of view and thus is prone to be perceived as yet another partisan contribution to the debate rather than objective information. Our aim in producing this synthesis of the relevant research was to provide an objective and balanced account of what these programs have accomplished, whether they are still needed, and why donor nations, especially the United States, should care. We hope that the report will help provide a more scientific basis for debating the merits of family planning programs.
This report was produced with financial assistance from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the United Nations Population Fund. It should be of interest to policy audiences and general readers interested in demographic and population issues.
The Population Matters project is being conducted within RAND's Labor and Population Program.
For further information on the Population Matters project, contact
Julie DaVanzo, Director
P.O. Box 2138
1700 Santa Monica, CA 90407-1238
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