In a recent report published by the Institute for Family Studies, economist Lyman Stone comes to a surprising conclusion: “In the vast majority of countries, women can expect to have fewer children than those same women say would be ideal.”
The following chart summarizes Stone’s findings:
Ironcially, notes Stone:
Population, reproduction, and family-oriented NGOs basically ignore the question of how to achieve desired births, not just avoid undesired births. This creates a vicious cycle. Governments and donors don’t collect data on fertility desires. Because the issue goes unmeasured, NGOs and civil society actors have little incentive to work for improvements in desire fulfillment. Because the people doing the yeoman’s work on family policy spend their day thinking about, for example, providing cheap contraceptives, rather than providing cheap diapers, they never push their governments to think more holistically about fertility. So, the cycle repeats. And the end result is that fertility settles well below the levels that women around the world say they want.
Will the antinatalists at Planned Parenthood take note? They should. As Stone says:
It’s time for policymakers and researchers to wake up and address the problem. Missing-but-wanted children now substantially outnumber unwanted births.