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Lancet. 2012 Jul 14;380(9837):165-71. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60827-7. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

The economic consequences of reproductive health and family planning.

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Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


We consider the evidence for the effect of access to reproductive health services on the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 1, 2, and 3, which aim to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, and promote gender equality and empower women. At the household level, controlled trials in Matlab, Bangladesh, and Navrongo, Ghana, have shown that increasing access to family planning services reduces fertility and improves birth spacing. In the Matlab study, findings from long-term follow-up showed that women's earnings, assets, and body-mass indexes, and children's schooling and body-mass indexes, substantially improved in areas with improved access to family planning services compared with outcomes in control areas. At the macroeconomic level, reductions in fertility enhance economic growth as a result of reduced youth dependency and an increased number of women participating in paid labour.

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