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The Impact of Family Planning Programs on the Health and Well-Being of US Women and Children, 1960-1980

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Martha J. Bailey

In 1999, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named family planning as one of the top ten "Great Public Health Achievements" of the twentieth century. However, the lack of data on family planning programs and randomization of program resources have limited social science knowledge about the benefits of these programs. The period of dramatic increases in federal investments in U.S. family planning programs under the "War on Poverty" (1964 to 1970) and Title X of the Public Health Service Act (1970-1980) presents an unrealized opportunity to evaluate the importance of these programs. This project will exploit discontinuities in federal family planning grants from 1964 to 1980 to create new estimates of these programs' impact on U.S. fertility and maternal and infant health. This project has two specific aims: (1) to compile, encode, link and disseminate the most comprehensive dataset on annual federal investments in family planning services from 1964 to 1980, fertility rates by race and county from 1950 to 1980, and maternal and infant health measures by race and county from 1950 to 1980; and (2) to develop and test a regression-discontinuity methodology for estimating the impact of family planning programs.

This project will contribute to the existing literature in several ways. First, a comprehensive summary of all (not just federally funded) family planning services in five program years will allow an examination of local program crowd-out by federal funds. Second, heterogeneity in the effectiveness of service delivery can be analyzed by provider type, since the clinic censuses provide information on the location (hospital or elsewhere) and sector (nonprofit or public) of each program. Finally, the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S. are a useful point of comparison for understanding the effectiveness of many of these programs today as well as in developing countries. By compiling, encoding and disseminating information on the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s, this project will aid other researchers interested in these programs and in fertility and maternal and infant health during this period.

Funding Period: 12/31/2007 to 03/31/2009

Country of Focus: USA

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