2.5 Relationships and Impacts: Relevance for ­Public Policies


This chapter analyzes the most important connections between the various components of population dynamics, reproduction, and gender and their actual or potential implications for public policies, from a viewpoint that highlights the need to reduce poverty and inequalities and guarantee human rights. These connections can be instrumental (e.g. contributing to environmental sustainability through measures that affect population distribution) or contextual (e.g. the need to consider the ageing process in policies to reduce poverty). In both cases, the relationships between interventions and processes, on the one hand, and key aspects of development will be studied, giving precedence to the contributions that can be made from the population and SRH perspective to the reduction of economic and social inequality, poverty, gender inequality, and the enhancement of human capital, as well as addressing other major issues on the national and international development agenda.

A complementary perspective might have been to analyze the impact of economic and social factors on the issues that make up the area of population, SRH, and gender. This Manual will not pursue this approach in any depth, insofar as it does not offer any clues to interventions that can be supported within the programmatic vision of UNFPA. But there may be exceptions. For example, one could think of studying educational interventions that go beyond traditional sex education programmes, such as educational programmes geared toward meaningful employment for women, as a way to encourage adolescents to pursue their education, rather than dropping out of school to start a family. Each UNFPA country office should decide to what extent it wishes to invest in this kind of complementary analysis.

For both purposes, it is necessary to provide evidence for the explanatory elements that each perspective contributes, both in the analysis of problems and towards possible policy responses. In many cases, this evidence may not be readily available at the country level, even though there are international studies or studies carried out in other countries that demonstrate the existence of the relevant relationships. In these cases, it is important not only to reaffirm the existence of the relationships, but to try to quantify the impacts based on national data, so that they can be compared with others, within a context of the costs and benefits of public policies. One must also ensure that these findings are discussed in terms that are meaningful to actors associated with central issues of the development agenda, and not only for counterparts with specific sectoral interests. As a first step, a conceptual framework should be presented, to show how the various components of population dynamics are linked with key public policy issues.

From the analytical viewpoint, this chapter may appear to be the most difficult in the sequence which moves from levels and trends (Chapter III), through inequalities (Chapter IV), to relationships and impacts. In part this difficulty is due to the fact that, in this phase of the analysis, it is necessary to think in terms of cause-and-effect relationships—and not only correlations—between various phenomena. The variety and complexity of the issues discussed in this chapter may well exceed the response capacity of many UNFPA country offices. Consequently, country offices should decide which of the challenges presented here could realistically be taken on. The list of issues presented below is an inventory of possibilities and it is not expected that each country will investigate each issue in detail. The options of each country depend on the availability of suitable data, on the priority of each topic within the public policy agenda, on the existence of previous studies and on the availability of local expertise to do original research on the respective subject. On average, it is to be hoped that countries manage to pursue a detailed analysis of maybe two thirds of the suggestions indicated below.

Some issues can be difficult to analyze in many countries, due to lack of information. Given that these are issues of considerable substantive importance, they are pointed out as opportunities for analysis to be researched to the extent possible. In some cases, it may be possible to promote a generation of more data so that these issues can be dealt with in more detail. In other cases, they can only be addressed to the extent that previous studies have been carried out in the country, as starting from scratch would be too onerous. In other cases still, it may be possible to support initiatives of a multi-centric, sub-regional, or national character.

Some standard methodologies are available to facilitate efforts to address the challenges involved in working with cause-and-effect relationships and the quantitative measurement of impacts. Some have been developed under the Project RLA5P201 (Regional support to Population and Development in the implementation of the MDGs in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean) in Brazil and have been disseminated as guides and working documents by that project. Others are derived from the general literature. They will be referred to in the methodology sub-sections of the upcoming sections.

The following list of issues generally follows the structure of the Millennium Development Agenda. The PSA tries to establish how population and SRH issues impact on the wider MDG agenda, beyond the targets in which UNFPA is most directly involved. In addition, countries may wish to incorporate other issues, e.g. public security, social protection or governability. In the following overview, the relationships and impacts have been divided between those that operate at the individual or household (micro) level and those that operate at the societal (macro) level. This distinction follows the same logic that was developed in Impacts of Population Dynamics, Reproductive Health and Gender on Poverty (PDB/TD, 2010), where these relationships are analysed specifically from the perspective of the impacts on MDG 1.


1. Linkages at the Micro Level

1.1. How Women’s Empowerment is Linked to Poverty Reduction and to MDGs 2 and 4
1.2. How Reproductive Health and Reducing Unwanted Births Contribute to Poverty Reduction
1.3. How HIV/AIDS is Linked to Other MDG Outcomes
1.4. How the Better Use of Household Resources and Better Birth Spacing are Linked to Poverty and Malnutrition
1.5. How Population Factors at the Household Level are Linked to the Formation of Human Resources (MDG 2)
1.6. How Reproductive Health is Linked to the Other Health MDGs

2. Linkages at the Macro Level

2.1. How Population Growth is Linked to Development and Poverty Reduction at the Macro Level
2.2. How Changes in Age Structures and Ageing are Linked to Poverty Reduction and Development, including Health Costs
2.3. On the Needs for Social Protection Linked to the Change of the Age Structure, especially Ageing
2.4. The Links of Migration and Spatial Distribution with Poverty
2.5. The Links between Population Dynamics and the Labour Market (MDG 1.B)
2.6. The Links between Population, Climate Change and Environment