Journal of Population Research

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 67–86 | Cite as

Rethinking the effectiveness of family planning in Africa



For the past 50 years there has been a near global consensus that the demands of development necessitate that couples reduce their fertility as a critical act which would jump start economic growth. This consensus heralded the era of the One Child policy and over 90% of least developed states continue to run programs which seek to induce lower fertility rates in their populations. However, a growing body of literature is questioning both the validity and utility of these interventions. This article seeks to contribute to the rethinking of family planning programs. Using new data on family planning scores from forty two African states this article shows that rates of fertility are unlikely to be affected by the strength of family planning programs at lower levels of development. However, at moderate levels of development, family planning programs may contribute to accelerating the decline in fertility initiated by exogenous factors. These findings offer a fresh perspective on the wide spread adoption of family planning policy that permeates the developing world.


Population policies Family planning Economic development Fertility Natality Africa Sub-Saharan Africa 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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