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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The political determinants of fertility control policy in South Asia Calder, John Gilchrist


This thesis presents a comparison over time of the fertility control policies of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It is a search for commonalities and idiosyncracies among the determinants of the three major elements of fertility policy, namely: (i) the fertility policy fact, (ii) shifts up or down in the vigour or coerciveness of fertility policy, and (iii) specific measures taken to control population growth on the subcontinent. The development of these policies is divisible into three distinct phases. In the first phase the appearance of fertility control on the public policy agenda is explained. The shift into the second phase -- in which government activity in these countries took a dramatic upturn — is then accounted for. This shift occurred when it became apparent that motivation of fertile couples was at least as important as providing them with the means to prevent conception, and was, accordingly, marked by a succession of "crash programmes" to attain both these objectives. In the third phase -- characterized by experimentation with policy concepts which go beyond the traditional practices of family planning -- India's experience with compulsion in fertility control policy is described and explained in contrast to her own and other countries' past policies. The whole range of determinants of these shifts and choices is divided into five categories of analysis: environment, power, ideas, institutions, and process. The most important of these is highlighted for each successive shift in policy direction. The thesis argues that the overall pattern of fertility control policy-making reveals that shifts in commitment occurred largely as a result of choices by individual leaders who responded to changes in the demographic and economic environments and, --in accordance with what they perceived to be politically feasible — attempted to affect that environment.

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