(June 2009) Family planning is one of the most cost-effective health interventions in the developing world. For decades, research has shown that for a relatively modest investment, family planning saves lives and improves maternal and child health. However, there have been relatively few studies that detail the ways in which family planning also lifts families out of poverty by helping poor women have fewer children. Now, a new study on Bangladesh provides evidence that long-term investment in an integrated family planning and maternal and child health (FPMCH) program contributes to improved economic security for families, households, and communities through larger incomes, greater accumulation of wealth, and higher levels of education. PRB’s policy brief, Family Planning and Economic Well-Being: New Evidence From Bangladesh, indicates that family planning and maternal-child health services help reduce poverty, the first goal of the Millennium Development Goals.

In this interview, Jay Gribble, vice president of International Programs at PRB and a co-author of the brief, discusses how the FPMCH program benefited women and families in the Matlab area villages in terms of livelihoods, health, and education, as well as the policy implications of the recent study’s findings.

Eric Zuehlke is an editor at the Population Reference Bureau.