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Many people know that development shapes population trends—for example, rising incomes usually lead to falling birthrates. But the reverse is also true: population trends can impede or hasten development. CGD's work on population focuses on this often neglected interaction.
Traditional population research seeks to understand the macro- and micro-level connections between demographic trends, poverty, and economic growth. However, precise links between population and poverty remain unclear: economic growth alone does not pull individuals out of poverty and reduced fertility rates do not necessarily yield higher economic growth. The Center is conducting innovative research to better understand and positively influence these complex relationships.
The Population & Poverty Research Network
In 2005, the CGD first convened the Population and Development Working Group. The Working Group identified three main substantive areas under which lines of empirical research would be useful for the medium-term policy agenda. For each, investment in data collection and use of appropriate research strategies promise to lead to more definitive and generalize-able findings than has been possible in the past. This work was solidified in the CGD working group on Population and Development report, The Population Dynamics and Economic Development Research Agenda, which focused on the linkages between reproductive health and economic outcomes, at the individual, community, and regional levels.
These research priorities reflected the multidisciplinary study of population and development by incorporating experts from the fields of public health, epidemiology, demography, economics, and public policy, among others—and are now being reflected in the work of researchers, funders, and interested policymakers, who are able to communicate their findings through the PopPov Research Network, an online tool that promotes the sharing of new knowledge about the links between population growth and economic outcomes.
PopPov is currently maintained by partnerships between the Population Reference Bureau, the Hewlett Foundation, and the CGD. PopPov research can be accessed here.
The CGD is evaluating PopPov sponsored research and selecting a small number of studies to be selected as working papers. Further, the CGD is reconvening members of the original working group to assess (i) whether the right policy questions where identified, (ii) whether research conducted responded adequately to questions, and (iii) to define further gaps in knowledge to be addressed. This work is expected to be completed by fall 2012.
Most of China’s fertility decline predates the famous One Child Policy—and instead occurred under its predecessor, the Later, Longer, Fewer (LLF) policy. Studying LLF’s contribution to fertility and sex selection behavior, we find that it i) reduced China’s total fertility rate by 0.9 births per woman (explaining 28% of China’s modern fertility decline), ii) doubled the use of male-biased fertility stopping rules, and iii) promoted postnatal neglect (implying 210,000 previously unrecognized missing girls). Considering Chinese population policy to be extreme in global experience, our paper demonstrates the limits of population policy—and its potential human costs.
With significant new money raised for the cause of family planning—an important accomplishment given the uncertainty around sustained US funding and the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy—it’s now time for donors to get serious about optimizing the efficiency, impact, and sustainability of family planning programs.
Martin Kirk and Jason Hickel published a piece earlier this week on the annual Gates Letter. The core critique is that the letter is too rosy. In particular, Kirk and Hickel say of the Gates' letter: "some of their examples are just wrong." The case they provide in illustration is the idea that poverty has been cut by half since 1990. The Gates "use figures based on a $1.25 a day poverty line, but there is a strong scholarly consensus that this line is far too low." Use other poverty lines, and global poverty "hasn’t been falling. In fact, it has been increasing—dramatically.” (See related pieces by Jason here and here). I don't think this critique holds up.
The scale of the turnout at the Women’s Marches across the world recently, along with President Trump’s early reinstatement of a ban on US funding for organizations that offer family planning services in foreign countries, seem to suggest an administration already at odds with an entire gender. On this week’s podcast, three CGD senior fellows weigh in on the evidence that engaging and empowering women—both at home and overseas—makes good sense, especially in an America-First strategy.
Congressman Ed Royce, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with a bipartisan list of cosponsors, is proposing the Digital GAP Act, designed to promote Internet access in developing countries and update foreign policy toward the Internet. And on the other side of Capitol Hill, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a bill also seeking to expand Internet access for developing country populations. That’s a worthy goal—as both bills note, over three billion people worldwide are already using the Internet and it can be a powerful force for change.
In spite of the attention received by the short-term crisis, Brazil faces a more serious problem, namely a long-term lack of growth or even perspectives of growth. If Brazil reforms its economic institutions and puts an end to state capitalism and economic nationalism, its labor productivity will grow again at high rates.
There is longstanding debate in population policy about the relationship between modern contraception and abortion. Although theory predicts that they should be substitutes, the existing body of empirical evidence is difficult to interpret. In this paper, we study Nepal’s 2004 legalization of abortion provision and subsequent expansion of abortion services.