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World society, family planning programs and the health of children

Wade Roberts (Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 24 July 2009




Drawing on world society and policy analysis literatures, the purpose of this paper is to examine the uneven diffusion of family planning programs in the developing world and the subsequent consequences for child health. The study begins by assessing the effect of world society ties on countries' commitment to and capacity for family planning programs. It then examines the impact such programs have on child health inputs and survival.


This paper uses a cross‐national, quantitative study design on a sample of less developed countries.


Countries' world society embeddedness is a robust predictor of their institutional commitment to and capacity for family planning programs. Such program efforts are also shown to have a significant impact on child survival rates, mediated by reduced fertility and higher rates of childhood immunization.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should further explore the way in which such programs contribute to and/or serve as a foundation for health infrastructure in developing countries.

Practical implications

This study points to the child health benefits associated with building capacity in family planning programs. Practitioners should take care to appropriately adapt global policy models to local needs and circumstances while allowing local control.


This paper contributes to a growing body of literature on the role of world society (international nongovernmental organization) networks in spreading development policies and programs in the developing world. Going one step further, it assesses the actual impact of one such policy program on children's health.



Roberts, W. (2009), "World society, family planning programs and the health of children", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 29 No. 7/8, pp. 414-425.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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