Pak Sudarno’s Big Family

In this chapter Banerjee and Duflo address the issues of family size and planning in developing countries.  They find that while fertility rates on average are higher in developing countries, “there is no smoking gun to prove that larger families are bad for children” (110).  Another important finding is that in the demand-supply debate over family planning, there is strong evidence in support of the demand side.  That is, merely making contraceptives more readily available “appears to do, in itself, little to reduce fertility” (112).  The guiding question of this chapter is “whether the poor really want such large families” (128).  Banerjee and Duflo suggest that effective population policies are focused on female empowerment and the shifting of social norms so that children take care of their parents in old age.

One statistic that I found particularly striking was that “85% of the population in the developing world lived in countries where the government had the explicit view that their population was too large and needed to be controlled through family planning” (105).  This alarmed me because the introduction discusses the forced sterilizations in India in the 1970s.  I would like to test the extent to which these government coerce their populations into family planning and developed the following model:

Planning=α+β1 GDP+β2 Fertility+D1 Politics+ε

This is a linear probability model where Planning is a dummy variable measuring whether or not a woman has been forcibly pressured into family planning.  GDP measures the GDP per capita of the country of which the woman is a citizen’s.  I would expect this to have a negative effect on forced family planning. Fertility measures the national fertility rate; a priori I would expect this to be positively correlated.  Politics is a dummy variable measuring whether the woman’s country scored less than 18 on the CIRI report: 1=woman lives in a country scoring below 18, 0=woman lives in a country scoring 18 or above.  The CIRI report gives a country a score from 0(worst)-30(best) based on indicators of human rights.  I have chosen 18 because that was the world average in the most recent report.  I would expect my dummy variable to have a positive effect on the probability of coerced family planning and could test this by comparing the calculated t-statistic to the critical t-value to determine whether it is statistically significant.


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