Expanding Wage Employment Opportunities, Especially for Women
DiscussionEmployment is the key to access to income, which opens the way to improved health, education, nutrition, and reduced family size. Reliable job opportunities enable parents to limit their family size and invest in the welfare of the children they have. The status and utilization of women in LDC societies is particularly important in reducing family size. For women, employment outside the home offers an alternative to early marriage and childbearing, and an incentive to have fewer children after marriage. The woman who must stay home to take care of her children must forego the income she could earn outside the home. Research indicates that female wage employment outside the home is related to fertility reduction. Programs to increase the women's labor force participation must, however, take account of the overall demand for labor; this would be a particular problem in occupations where there is already widespread unemployment among males. But other occupations where women have a comparative advantage can be encouraged.
Improving the legal and social status of women gives women a greater voice in decision-making about their lives, including family size, and can provide alternative opportunities to childbearing, thereby reducing the benefits of having children.
The U.S. Delegation to the Bucharest Conference emphasized the importance of improving the general status of women and of developing employment opportunities for women outside the home and off the farm. It was joined by all countries in adopting a strong statement on this vital issue. See Chapter VI for a fuller discussion of the conference.
Recommendations: 1. AID should communicate with and seek opportunities to assist national economic development programs to increase the role of women in the development process. 2. AID should review its education/training programs (such as U.S. participant training, in-country and third-country training) to see that such activities provide equal access to women.
3. AID should enlarge pre-vocational and vocational training to involve women more directly in learning skills which can enhance their income and status in the community (e.g. paramedical skills related to provision of family planning services).
4. AID should encourage the development and placement of LDC women as decision-makers in development programs, particularly those programs designed to increase the role of women as producers of goods and services, and otherwise to improve women's welfare (e.g. national credit and finance programs, and national health and family planning programs).
5. AID should encourage, where possible, women's active participation in the labor movement in order to promote equal pay for equal work, equal benefits, and equal employment opportunities.
6. AID should continue to review its programs and projects for their impact on LDC women, and adjust them as necessary to foster greater participation of women - particularly those in the lowest classes - in the development process.
II. B. 4. Developing Alternatives to the Social Security Role Provided By Children to Aging Parents
Discussion: In most LDCs the almost total absence of government or other institutional forms of social security for old people forces dependence on children for old age survival. The need for such support appears to be one of the important motivations for having numerous children. Several proposals have been made, and a few pilot experiments are being conducted, to test the impact of financial incentives designed to provide old age support (or, more tangentially, to increase the earning power of fewer children by financing education costs parents would otherwise bear). Proposals have been made for son-insurance (provided to the parents if they have no more than three children), and for deferred payments of retirement benefits (again tied to specified limits on family size), where the payment of the incentive is delayed. The intent is not only to tie the incentive to actual fertility, but to impose the financial cost on the government or private sector entity only after the benefits of the avoided births have accrued to the economy and the financing entity. Schemes of varying administrative complexity have been developed to take account of management problems in LDCs. The economic and equity core of these long-term incentive proposals is simple: the government offers to return to the contracting couple a portion of the economic dividend they generate by avoiding births, as a direct trade-off for the personal financial benefits they forego by having fewer children. Further research and experimentation in this area needs to take into account the impact of growing urbanization in LDCs on traditional rural values and outlooks such as the desire for children as old-age insurance.
Recommendation: AID should take a positive stance with respect to exploration of social security type incentives as described above. AID should encourage governments to consider such measures, and should provide financial and technical assistance where appropriate. The recommendation made earlier to establish an "intermediary" institutional capacity which could provide LDC governments with substantial assistance in this area, among several areas on the "demand" side of the problem, would add considerably to AID's ability to carry out this recommendation.
II. B. 5. Pursuing Development Strategies that Skew Income Growth Toward the Poor, Especially Rural Development Focussing on Rural PovertyIncome distribution and rural development: The higher a family's income, the fewer children it will probably have, except at the very top of the income scale. Similarly, the more evenly distributed the income in a society, the lower the overall fertility rate seems to be since better income distribution means that the poor, who have the highest fertility, have higher income. Thus a development strategy which emphasizes the rural poor, who are the largest and poorest group in most LDCs would be providing income increases to those with the highest fertility levels. No LDC is likely to achieve population stability unless the rural poor participate in income increases and fertility declines. Agriculture and rural development is already, along with population, the U.S. Government's highest priority in provision of assistance to LDCs. For FY 1975, about 60% of the $1.13 billion AID requested in the five functional areas of the foreign assistance legislation is in agriculture and rural development. The $255 million increase in the FY 1975 level authorized in the two year FY 1974 authorization bill is virtually all for agriculture and rural development.
AID's primary goal in agriculture and rural development is concentration in food output and increases in the rural quality of life; the major strategy element is concentration on increasing the output of small farmers, through assistance in provision of improved technologies, agricultural inputs, institutional supports, etc.
This strategy addresses three U.S. interests: First, it increases agricultural output in the LDCs, and speeds up the average pace of their development, which, as has been noted, leads to increased acceptance of family planning. Second, the emphasis on small farmers and other elements of the rural poor spreads the benefits of development as broadly as is feasible among lower income groups. As noted above spreading the benefits of development to the poor, who tend to have the highest fertility rates, is an important step in getting them to reduce their family size. In addition, the concentration on small farmer production (vs., for example, highly mechanized, large-scale agriculture) can increase on and off farm rural job opportunities and decrease the flow to the cities. While fertility levels in rural areas are higher than in the cities, continued rapid migration into the cities at levels greater than the cities' job markets or services can sustain adds an important destabilizing element to development efforts and goals of many countries. Indeed, urban areas in some LDCs are already the scene of urban unrest and high crime rates.
RecommendationAID should continue its efforts to focus not just on agriculture and rural development but specifically on small farmers and on labor-intensive means of stimulating agricultural output and on other aspects of improving the quality of life of the rural poor, so that agriculture and rural development assistance, in addition to its importance for increased food production and other purposes, can have maximum impact on reducing population growth.
II. B. 6. Concentration on Education and Indoctrination of The Rising Generation of Children Regarding the Desirability of Smaller Family Size
Discussion: Present efforts at reducing birth rates in LDCs, including AID and UNFPA assistance, are directed largely at adults now in their reproductive years. Only nominal attention is given to population education or sex education in schools and in most countries none is given in the very early grades which are the only attainment of 2/3-3/4 of the children. It should be obvious, however, that efforts at birth control directed toward adults will with even maximum success result in acceptance of contraception for the reduction of births only to the level of the desired family size -- which knowledge, attitude and practice studies in many countries indicate is an average of four or more children. The great necessity is to convince the masses of the population that it is to their individual and national interest to have, on the average, only three and then only two children. There is little likelihood that this result can be accomplished very widely against the background of the cultural heritage of today's adults, even the young adults, among the masses in most LDCs. Without diminishing in any way the effort to reach these adults, the obvious increased focus of attention should be to change the attitudes of the next generation, those who are now in elementary school or younger. If this could be done, it would indeed be possible to attain a level of fertility approaching replacement in 20 years and actually reaching it in 30.
Because a large percentage of children from high-fertility, low-income groups do not attend school, it will be necessary to develop means to reach them for this and other educational purposes through informal educational programs. As the discussion earlier of the determinants of family size (fertility) pointed out, it is also important to make significant progress in other areas, such as better health care and improvements in income distribution, before desired family size can be expected to fall sharply. If it makes economic sense for poor parents to have large families twenty years from now, there is no evidence as to whether population education or indoctrination will have sufficient impact alone to dissuade them.