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Browse POLICY Project (1995-2006) Materials

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  • This paper suggests ways in which policy analysis guided by human capital theory might inform national debates concerning the implementation of programs aimed at achieving the reproductive health priorities set forth in the ICPD Programme of Action. Linking reproductive health policies and programs to their likely human capital impacts shows policymakers that, in addition to helping meet individuals' basic human rights to reproductive health, investments in reproductive health services benefit the public interest by increasing the productive potential of individuals and their immediate social unit—the family or household. Moreover, increases in productive potential at the individual, family, or household level cumulate to increases in productive potential at the societal level. The economic rationale and supporting evidence provided by a human capital approach to the promotion of reproductive health may help strengthen the case for adopting policies and financing programs that will make the right to reproductive health services and information a reality. To gain a better understanding of how to design reproductive health policies and programs to promote human capital development, this paper relies on a conceptual framework built in three stages. The first stage presents an overview of how reproductive health contributes to development both directly through human capital accumulation and indirectly through the loosening of resource constraints resulting from reduced population growth. The second stage develops more fully the mechanisms through which reproductive health augments human capital. Finally, the third stage synthesizes the concepts and linkages presented in the first two stages and shows how the human capital approach might be relevant to reproductive health and program development. The paper contains a detailed list of illustrative impacts of selected reproductive health interventions on human capital formation as well as an extensive bibliography of research documenting those impacts.