/ ˈfæməli ˈplænɪŋ /
Spacing or preventing the birth of children. Access to family-planning services (see contraceptive) is a significant factor in women's health as well as in limiting population growth. If all those women who wished to avoid further childbirth were able to do so, the number of births would be reduced by 27% in Africa, 33% in Asia, and 35% in Latin America; and the number of women who die during pregnancy or childbirth would be reduced by about 50%.
The average number of pregnancies per woman is two in the industrialized countries, where 71% use family planning, as compared to six or seven pregnancies per woman in the Third World. According to a World Bank estimate, doubling the annual $2 billion spent on family planning would avert the deaths of 5.6 million infants and 250,000 mothers each year.
In the face of increased populations and decreased food supplies and natural resources, family planning has become a priority for some nations.
Access to family planning is only one of the factors that determine family size. The others are health care for mothers and children, family income, education for women, and women's status in society. Poor people tend to have large families but mothers and children are more likely to be undernourished and vulnerable to disease; women who have had little or no schooling have twice as many children as those who have had seven years; and women whose status in the community depends on their role as wives and mothers have more children than women who enjoy other social rights and duties.