What Will $1 Billion Buy?

Security. Stability. Survival.

Despite increases under the Obama administration, 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 214 million women in the developing world who want to prevent pregnancy, but have an unmet need for contraception. This unmet need leads to approximately 89 million unintended pregnancies each year.

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 $11.9 billion each year (the current expenditure is $6.3 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 $1.6 billion per year. This figure represents our fair share of the total cost of satisfying unmet need worldwide, and it will bring enormous returns for people everywhere.

Maternal and Child Survival

Every year, millions of women suffer serious complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, and more than 300,000 of them die as a result. Nearly all of these deaths occur in developing countries, and nearly all are preventable. Researchers estimate that, by itself, universal access to modern contraception would reduce maternal deaths by 25%.

Unintended pregnancy leads all too frequently to unsafe abortion. Of the 49 million abortions in the developing world each year, half (over 24 million) are unsafe, and nearly 7 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. Every year, 2.7 million infants die in their first month of life, and a similar number are stillborn. 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.


  • 214 million women in the developing world have an unmet need for family planning.
  • Unsafe abortion kills 22,800–31,000 women every year.
  • Eliminating unmet need for family planning would prevent 76,000 maternal deaths each year.

Resource and Climate Security

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.


  • 785 million people lack a basic drinking-water service
  • The number of chronically hungry people increased from 777 million in 2015 to 822 million in 2018.
  • Slowing population growth could provide 16–29% of the emissions reductions necessary by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change.

Peace and Stability

Today’s generation of young people is the largest in history, with over 3 billion people under the age of 25. Nearly 90% 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.


An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of conflict, persecution, or human rights violations.
More than 10 million stateless people have been denied a nationality and fulfillment of basic rights such as water, sanitation, education, healthcare, employment, and freedom of movement.
The number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated at 413 million—about 41% of the population in that region.

Real investment in family planning can create a more just and humane world, and a healthier, safer, more prosperous future for all.

The Benefits of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

The United States currently invests $607.5 million in assistance for international family planning and reproductive health programs. This results in:

  • 27.4 million women and couples receiving contraceptive services and supplies;
  • 12.2 million fewer unintended pregnancies,
  • 4.5 million fewer unplanned births;
  • 4.1 million fewer unsafe abortions
  • 20,000 fewer maternal deaths.

Each Additional $10 Million Results in:

  • 451,000 women and couples receiving contraceptive services and supplies;
  • 200,000 fewer unintended pregnancies
  • 74,000 fewer unplanned births;
  • 67,000 fewer induced abortions (35,000 of which would be provided in unsafe conditions); and
  • 320 fewer maternal deaths.

Source: Just the Numbers: The Impact of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance, 2020, Guttmacher Institute