With more women and men empowered to control their fertility with planning and birth control use, some populations are seeing drops in childbearing. Some countries are concerned about population declines and are promoting childbearing. The “baby bonus” programs of Australia and Singapore may ring a bell.
Other countries are considering policies that restrict access to reproductive health services, such as contraception and abortion, and actually making them illegal in some situations. If these policies are implemented, there are serious concerns it could lead to more unsafe abortions.
Others question whether forcing women into the domestic sphere roles may backfire. Research from Harvard’s sociology department found that declining fertility may not be linked to birth control use, but rather to gender role stereotypes placed on women. Other countries experiencing similar drops in birth rates are working to improve conditions so that couples want to plan to have children. An example of improving conditions is more maternity and paternity leave.
We live in an interesting time where most populations are struggling to reduce unintended pregnancies but a few are now working to promote more pregnancies.