Inadequate family planning services push more people into poverty, says Legatum Institute fellow, writes Victoria Bateman, Legatum Fellow (CapX)
“Early twentieth century birth-control campaigners such as Margaret Sanger had little doubt that women’s access to affordable contraception was vital to reducing poverty rates, something which evidence has borne out. The expansion of federally funded family planning services in the US in the 1960s and early 1970s reduced the number of births to poorer women by 20-30% and reduced the child poverty rate by 4.2%. Whilst we tend to assume that poverty reduction is the result of either capitalism or the welfare state, the ability for women to control their own fertility is just as important."
“Whilst the percentage of children living in single parent households has risen across the OECD (to around 15%), in the US it is now 26%. Not only is the U.S. home to many more such single-parent households, these households are also much more likely to live in poverty than in other rich economies.”
“Trying to mitigate the effects through the welfare system has proven costly. Estimates suggest that if the percentage of children growing up in single parent homes had remained the same as in 1970, by 2012 the child poverty rate would have been 15% as opposed to 21%. According to Sawhill, the rise in single parenthood has “completely offset the poverty reducing effects of the growth of cash assistance programs over the past four decades or so”. In fact, “for every child kept out of poverty by the earned income tax credit or some other programme, another child is about to be born into poverty because of the wholesale breakdown of the American Family”. Welfare programs have been fighting a losing battle, making the US poverty rate remarkably stubborn.”
Read: America’s War on Birth Control is Set to Increase Poverty Rates