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John Bongaarts, USA
Alvarez-Bravo Keynote Lecture

John Bongaarts, USA

John Bongaarts is Vice President and Distinguished Scholar of the Population Council where he has been employed since 1973. He holds a PhD in Physiology and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Illinois and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Population Dynamics at the John’s Hopkins School of Public Health. Bongaarts’ research has focused on a range of population and health issues, including population projections, determinants of fertility and mortality trends, the impact of family planning programs and population policy options in both the developed and developing world. He has published over 200 papers, chapters and books.   Honors include the Robert J. Lapham Award and the Mindel Sheps Award from the Population Association of America, and the Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health.  He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, and is a Laureate of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.

Alvarez-Bravo Keynote Lecture

Societal and individual benefits from increasing access to family planning

Abstract: Over the past half century, the world has experienced a revolution in reproductive behavior. The number of married women using contraception world-wide has risen from 207 million in 1970 to 775 million today. Trends vary by region with highest levels of contraceptive prevalence in the developed world and East Asia and the lowest levels in sub-Saharan Africa.

Despite this massive growth in contraceptive use many women still have an unmet need for contraception, i.e. they don’t want to become pregnant but are not practicing contraception. Reasons for non-use include lack of access to services and the high costs of modern methods. Fear of side effects of methods and disapproval of husbands are also significant barriers to use. As a result, each year about 30 million unplanned births and 48 million abortions occur in the developing world.

Voluntary family planning programs reduce these obstacles by increasing access, providing subsidies, and expanding method options. Well-run programs in many countries have contributed to sustained increases in contraceptive use and in declines in unmet need.

These programs bring direct health and welfare benefits to the women and their families. They also provide a wide range of socio-economic benefits. A reduced birth rate, for example, helps the education and health sectors as demand for their services growth less rapidly. It also produces a “demographic dividend” in the form of a boost to economic growth.

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