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UN: Birth control, abortion, and sex ed key to economic success


School children in Lagos, Nigeria. Associated Press/Photo by Sunday Alamba

UN: Birth control, abortion, and sex ed key to economic success

A new UN report claims the world’s unprecedented 1.8 billion young people have the potential to propel growth and productivity in the developing world, but only if they have access to birth control, abortion, and sex education.

The plan, laid out in the United Nation Population Fund’s (UNFPA) annual report, the State of the World Population 2014, encourages developing countries to take the “largest global youth population in human history” and flood the workplace by prolonging pregnancy and child-rearing. This “demographic dividend”—a work force population greater than the dependent and younger population—will result in economic and societal gains, according to the report.

“UNFPA works to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” the organization’s website proclaims.

But Christian organizations say the UN recommendations are based on a faulty assumption.

“The premise that reducing the fertility of developing countries will catapult them into prosperity is questionable,” writes Rebecca Oas, associate director of research at the Center for Family and Human Rights Institute, a Catholic organization. “Economists have observed that a drop in fertility tends to follow, rather than precede, increased economic prosperity.”

The report recommends countries, especially developing countries, transition from high child mortality and high fertility to a low child mortality and low fertility. This requires sexual education, access to contraception, and abortion. The report claims such movement will result in more educated and healthy young people in the marketplace, with increased per-capita income and reduced poverty.

UNFPA boasts that if sub-Saharan Africa will adopt its recommended practices, the region will see an economic boost of as much as $500 billion a year, for 30 years. Today, sub-Saharan Africa has 1.2 workers to every non-worker. As a role model, the report recommends East Asia, with 2.4 workers for every non-worker. The report claims after East Asian countries began expanding access to voluntary family planning in the 1950s and 1960s, people delayed starting families and had smaller families. South Korea’s per-capita gross domestic product grew by 2,200 percent between 1950 and 2008.

Oas argues the UNFPA report, while acknowledging young people are impeded by lack of education and economic stagnation, presents all the wrong solutions: more protected sex, abortion, reduced parental involvement, and removing laws against same-sex behavior, drug use, and sex work.

“In total, the UNFPA report asserts that the key to development is ensuring that adolescents’ sexual behavior is unsupervised, unrestricted, publicly funded, and, above all, non-procreative,” writes Oas.

The United States government intermittently withheld funding from UNFPA during the last three Republican administrations on grounds that it managed programs involving coercive abortions and involuntary sterilization. President Barack Obama resumed U.S. funding for UNFPA in 2009. U.S. taxpayers gave more than $35 million dollars to UNFPA in 2013.


Kiley Crossland Kiley is a former WORLD correspondent.

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