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Donaldson, Peter J. & Tsui, Amy Ong (1990). The International Family Planning Movement. Population Bulletin, 45(3), 3-46.


Over the past 3 decades, the number of women using family planning has increased 6-fold to over 400 million married women of childbearing age. The evolution of behavior and attitudes toward using birth control among third world couples reflects the goals and hard work of an international network of individuals, governments and organizations. This article follows the progression of this movement, from early opposition in developed as well as developing countries, to the present day, when birth control is practiced by a slight majority of the world's women of childbearing age. Among world regions, contraceptive use ranges from about 17% in Africa to 75% in Asia. In some African countries, however, family planning is still a foreign concept, and fewer than 5% of women use any birth control. International organizations played a crucial role in spread of family planning by providing training for developing country professionals, funding actual family planning programs and helping to evaluate programs. But the success of a country's family planning program also was dependent upon a national commitment, and often on a strong socioeconomic setting. The private sector has had a limited role except in some countries, notably in Latin America, but its involvement is likely to expand in the future. Also, as financial support from the US and international organizations wanes, national governments will cover a larger share of the cost. The worldwide increase in the practice of family planning has led to fertility declines in many third world countries, slowing rapid population growth rates. For individuals, family planning has been a liberating influence, allowing them to participate more fully in the shift from traditional to modern society.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Population Bulletin


Donaldson, Peter J.
Tsui, Amy Ong