United States funding for international family planning remains 30% below the 1995 level when accounting for inflation. At the same time, the number of women of reproductive age in the developing world has grown.
Today, there are an estimated 218 million women in the developing world who want to prevent pregnancy but have an unmet need for contraception. There are approximately 111 million unintended pregnancies each year in developing regions.
Unintended births and the population growth they help accelerate contribute to a host of global challenges: maternal and child mortality, resource insecurity, and conflict and regional instability. To expand and improve contraceptive services to all women in the developing world who want them would cost $12.6 billion each year (the current expenditure is $7.1 billion). Achieving this goal would require developing countries, donor countries—including the United States—and other funders to increase their investments in family planning.
The total amount needed from the United States is $1.74 billion per year—including $116 million for UNFPA—roughly $1 billion more than we’re currently investing. This figure represents our fair share of the total cost of satisfying unmet need worldwide, and it will bring enormous returns for people everywhere.
Every year, millions of women suffer serious complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, and approximately 287,000 of them die as a result. Nearly all of these deaths occur in developing countries, and nearly all are preventable. New figures from the Guttmacher Institute estimate that if the U.S. increased its international family planning investment from $605.7 million to $1.74 billion, the number of maternal deaths prevented would increase by 260%.
Unintended pregnancy leads all too frequently to unsafe abortion. Of the 68 million abortions in the developing world each year, half (35 million) are unsafe, and 20 million women are treated for complications as a result. Fulfilling unmet need for family planning would reduce these numbers dramatically.
Lack of access to family planning also increases the risks to newborns. Birth spacing is critical to newborn health. Women who are unable to space or time pregnancies are at much higher risk of birth complications and of having babies with low birth weight. In 2020, 2.4 million newborns died in their first month of life. Robust commitment to family planning and reproductive health services would save infant lives.
Real investment in family planning will save the lives of women and children around the world.
Population growth around the world increases climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions and depletes natural resources. Growing demand for food, fuel, and fresh water leads to habitat destruction and land, water, and air pollution. Increasing access to voluntary family planning and comprehensive reproductive health care is one way to help address these global challenges.
Real investment in family planning can help protect the environment and relieve stress on climate and natural resources.
Today’s generation of young people is the largest in history, with 3.26 billion people under the age of 25. Over 80% of these young people live in the developing world, many of them in countries unable to meet the needs of their citizens. This reality places much of the developing world at a major crossroads. Ensuring that young people can expand their opportunities for education, employment, and a healthy, productive future will make their lives better, and will strengthen the economic and social stability of developing nations.
Failure to address the needs of this “youth bulge,” however, is likely to open fast-growing countries up to the risk of civil unrest and conflict, and to have dramatic consequences for the stability of the world for decades to come.
Real investment in family planning will encourage social progress and decrease the risk of conflict and instability.
Real investment in family planning can create a more just and humane world, and a healthier, safer, more prosperous future for all.
The United States currently invests $607.5 million in assistance for international family planning and reproductive health programs. This results in:
Source: Just the Numbers: The Impact of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance, 2022, Guttmacher Institute
This page was last updated on March 21, 2023.