BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 01:00 GMT
UN calls for women's health 'bonus'
Indian women
India set to profit from investment in women's health

Investing in women's health makes countries richer because of a newly-identified "demographic bonus", says a United Nations report.

About a third of the annual economic growth of the Asian "tiger" economies, and Mexico and Brazil, has been due to spending on female healthcare.

If South Asian countries, such as India, continue to fund birth control programmes they too could benefit, suggests the study.

The UN Population Fund has identified what it calls the "demographic bonus" which made countries like South Korea and Singapore richer, and other countries could now exploit.

Vatican-approved computerised birth control kit
Funding birth control leads to economic growth
The bonus occurs when countries invest in areas like family planning and safe childbirth as well as traditional economic infrastructure.

As women are empowered to make choices, the report argues, fertility rates decline.

The proportion of dependent children relative to the productive working population therefore also declines and economic growth follows.

But it's only a one-off opportunity for most countries, lasting a decade or two, because the working population then grows old and becomes dependent at the other end of the age scale.

The UN says the demographic bonus occurred in the "Asian tiger" economies in the 1980s and 1990s - and that the phenomenon is set to occur in parts of South Asia from about 2015.

So the time to invest in women's health is now.

'One-time opportunity'

"What we're urging is that countries take advantage of this, recognise that it exists - that it's a one-time opportunity - and if they take advantage of it, then they can reap the benefit," says Alex Marshall of the UN Population Fund.

The report says while countries like India appear to be heading for a demographic bonus, the poorest 50 states of the world, many in Africa, will require outside help if they are to benefit from the phenomenon.

The poorest will not reach the economic take-off point where the bonus kicks in because they do not have the money to invest in women's health even though they know it would be a profitable investment.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mark Doyle
"The time to invest in womens' health is now"
Alex Marshall, report author
"We found that moving towards gender equality helps economies"
Thoraya Obaid, UN Population Fund
"Fighting poverty is not just an economic issue"
See also:

18 Dec 00 | South Asia
02 Nov 00 | Europe
09 May 02 | Health
06 Nov 02 | Business
26 Jun 02 | Business
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes