Our study estimates the effects of exposure to a family planning program which promoted surgical contraception for the first time in Peru on women’s use of birth control methods and their children’s health. While a broad program, the Programa de Salud Reproductiva y Planificación Familiar forced many indigenous women to undergo sterilization. We compare provinces affected by the program earlier with provinces affected later, before and after the policy. Overall, the results indicate that women in treated areas were more likely to use both temporary and permanent contraceptive methods and their children were less likely to die within their first year of life, partly due to longer breastfeeding. However, we observe heterogeneity by ethnicity. In treated provinces, nonindigenous children benefited from the policy regardless of their mothers’ choice of contraceptive method, while there were few positive impacts for indigenous children whose mothers underwent sterilization. This suggests that coercive or aggressively implemented family planning programs may not confer health benefits on children.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.