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OLIECH: Invest in voluntary family planning for economic development

Family planning also strengthens economic growth and global competitiveness.

In Summary

• Investing and expanding access to voluntary family planning contributes to improved economic outcomes for households, communities and nations

• When a country's fertility declines, there is a larger proportion of working age people than of non-working young and elderly dependence. 

At least 57.8 per cent of married women in Kenya are on modern family planning methods.
At least 57.8 per cent of married women in Kenya are on modern family planning methods.

There is a low cost, simple health solution that has the power to transform a country's economy.

Investing and expanding access to voluntary family planning contributes to improved economic outcomes for households, communities and nations, and it strengthens economic growth and global competitiveness. 

It can also transform the economies of households and communities.

When a mother is able to delay pregnancy or she and her partner can stop having children when they want to, she can invest more of her household income in her existing children.

She has more time and freedom to complete her education and earn more money.

Her children are more likely to be healthy, fed and educated, which means they are more likely to grow into productive high-performing members of the community and the workforce. 

Over time, household benefits become nationwide benefits. A decrease in average family size means fewer children in the school system.

With more resources to spend per child, countries can provide the quality education skills and technology infrastructure needed to move a larger share of their workers into better paying 21st-century jobs.

With smaller cohorts of graduates entering the job market, we should expect to see less unemployment and underemployment, especially for women.

When a country's fertility declines, there is a larger proportion of working-age people than of non-working young and elderly dependence.

Countries with fewer dependents have more resources to invest in sectors that benefit the whole population, such as vital social services and infrastructure.

Investments in roads, bridges, electricity and Information and Communication Technology become possible. 

Family planning also strengthens economic growth and global competitiveness.

Experts estimate that achieving universal access to contraception would have the second-highest return on investment, among all 169 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Universal access to contraception would yield $120 in social, economic and environmental benefits for every dollar spent. 

To give some specific examples of these cost savings, improving women's access to economic opportunities would return seven dollars for every dollar spent, and increasing the educational attainment of women would return five US dollars for every dollar spent. 

Departments of Finance and Planning must keep demographic projections at the forefront of their policies and programmes and nearly every ministry would benefit directly from analysing the impacts of voluntary family planning programmes on their sectors, and determining how they can invest in this important approach to sustainable development.

Many of us know first-hand that family planning transforms lives. We now have the opportunity and the evidence to demonstrate how family planning transforms economies.

Michael Okun Oliech