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To help us move from theory to application, we will look at several common interventions and policies that target particular determinants of growth. We will look at the evidence around some of these interventions and their effectiveness.

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Population & Sustainable Growth

How do we support family planning programs?

Numerous programs attempt to change family decisions around childbearing

In developing countries, many policies try to reduce the birthrate to improve welfare – households will need fewer inputs –like food, housing, and education.

Mass Media Campaigns

Common government campaigns use mass media to deliver a general family planning message – using newspapers, radio, TV, and other platforms to reach a wide audience.

Family Planning Programs

Many programs strengthen and expand efforts to promote the uptake of family planning services among households.

Mass media campaigns need to be carefully designed to change health behaviors

Program Impacts

A review of public health campaigns found that programs that simply provide information and messaging often do not lead to changes in important outcomes.

Effective campaigns often need to provide concrete steps and recommendations, as well as why these steps are important.

Example Campaign

Indonesia’s national family planning campaign, “Two Children is Enough”, has been in place for decades. It is unclear how effective messaging continues to be, especially at tackling underlying barriers to contraceptive uptake (e.g., lack of information, social taboos, and gender biases).

Alternative Media Impacts

Mass media campaigns compete for attention with other types of media. Two analyses found that popular soap operas significantly influenced family sizes by forwarding narratives that feature smaller family units.

  • An analysis of a soap operas in Brazil found that exposure to telenovelas significantly reduced overall fertility.

  • A study of soap operas in India found similar fertility impacts.

Successful family planning campaigns that increase contraceptive uptake use several techniques

Program Impacts

Several successful campaigns used the following principles to help increase the  uptake of family planning services in developing country settings. See three examples below.

Salient and Accurate Information

A radio campaign in Burkina Faso focused on filling information gaps in communities that were concerned about contraceptive side effects.

An evaluation of this program found that the campaign significantly increased contraceptive uptake.

Improving Access to Family Planning

In some cases, various logistical and financial barriers prevent people from  accessing family planning services.

A study in Malawi found that offering free clinic transportation, at-home counseling, and reimbursements reduced pregnancy likelihood and increased birth spacing.

Program Targeting

In many countries, contraceptive use remains taboo, and women may have less power over reproductive choices.

An evaluation in Zambia by Duke University researcher Erica Field found that providing women with private family planning services made them more likely to use the services.


  • Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). 2021. “Designing information campaigns to increase adoption of healthy behaviors.” J-PAL Policy Insights. Last modified August 2021.
  • Duryea, S., La Ferrara, E., & Chong, A. (2008). Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence from Brazil.
  • Jensen, R., & Oster, E. (2009). The power of TV: Cable television and women’s status in India. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124(3).
  • Innovations for Poverty Action. (2021, June). Increasing Demand for Modern Contraception in Burkina Faso with a Mass Media Campaign.
  • The Impact of Family Planning on Fertility, Birth Spacing, and Child. (2021, November 5). Innovations for Poverty Action. 
  • Contraceptive Adoption, Fertility, and the Family in Zambia| The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).

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