Speaking Of: : Family Planning

Like UNICEF, the nonprofit research group Population Action International believes that “family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single ‘technology’ now available to the human race.” The Washington-based group recently rated developed nations on their foreign aid to family planning programs.

In a subsequent report, PAI scolds many wealthy countries for what it regards as inadequate donations to poorer nations. To accomplish its goal of worldwide access to family planning, PAIcalls for more contributions from developed nations--an increase from roughly $1 billion in 1991 to $4.5 billion by 2000.


The United States led estimated population assistance contributions among 20 countries in 1991, the report says:


* Top Ten (In millions of dollars) United States: $340.4 Germany: 73.1 Japan: 60.9 Norway: 51.7 Britain: 45.1 Sweden: 40.8 Netherlands: 38.2 Canada: 27.9 Finland: 24.7 Denmark: 23.3 * Bottom 10 (In millions of dollars) Switzerland: $6.5 Belgium: 5.8 Australia: 5.1 France: 2.0 Italy: 1.5 New Zealand: 0.4 Austria: 0.4 Spain: 0.3 Portugal: 0.02 Ireland: 0 Figures are based on constant 1990 dollars.


The sets new goals for 20 industrialized countries. The goal for the United States, for example, is $1.4 billion in aid donations to family planning by the year 2000. That works out to 4.1 times the $340 million it gave in 1991. Norway is closest to the new goal--0.5 times what it gave--and Portugal is furthest--850 times.

* Closest to goal (Multiplier needed to close the gap, dollar amount in millions) Norway: 0.5 ($25) Finland: 1.2 ($30) Denmark: 1.3 ($31) Sweden: 1.4 ($56) Netherlands: 1.8 ($70) United States: 4.1 ($1,385) Canada: 5.0 ($139) Britain: 5.4 ($246) Germany: 5.6 ($412) Ireland: $9 million, compared to $0 in 1991 * Furthest from goal (Multiplier needed to close the gap, dollar amount in millions) Belgium: 8.4 ($49) Switzerland: 8.9 ($58) Australia: 13.3 ($68) Japan: 13.6 ($826) New Zealand: 25.0 ($10) Austria: 100.0 ($40) France: 146.0 ($292) Italy: 184.0 ($276) Spain: 423.3 ($127) Portugal: 850.0 ($17) Figures are based on constant 1990 dollars.



Finally, the report uses five factors to rank nations’ current spending on such aid:

* Percentage of GNP committed to all development assistance. This is rated because social and economic development also leads to smaller families.

* Population assistance as a percentage of total foreign aid.


* The gap between 1991 contributions and donations recommended by 2000.

* Financial support for contraceptives and abortion.

* Provision of qualified staff to manage family planning programs.

Norway has the best record for family planning aid to developing nations while the United States ranks a distant third.


The report praises the United States for unmatched family planning expertise, working both here and abroad, but faults it for falling short in the percentage of GNP spent on overall development aid, 0.2%. Seven of the 20 nations profiled in the report rated failing grades because of the relatively small percentage of GNP spent on both development and population assistance.

Ireland has the lowest rating, reflecting the powerful influence of the Catholic Church there that makes government spending on family planning difficult. Here are the rankings and the grades:

1. Norway: A

2. Sweden: B


3. United States: B

4. Finland/Britain: B-

5. Denmark: B-

6. Netherlands: C+


7. Germany: C

8. Canada: C

9. Japan: D

10. Belgium/Australia: D


11. Switzerland: D

12. France: F

13. New Zealand: F

14. Italy: F


15. Austria/Portugal: F16. Spain: F

17. Ireland: F

SOURCE: Global Population Assistance: A Report Card on the Major Donor Countries Compiled by Times Researcher Ann Griffith