Setting the Stage for Fertility Decline: Development in Bangladesh

EPA Grant Number: U915718
Title: Setting the Stage for Fertility Decline: Development in Bangladesh
Investigators: Le, Linh-Vi N.
Institution: Monterey Institute of International Studies
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period:    
Project Amount: $80,974
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice , Fellowship - Environmental


The objective of this research project is to investigate the rapid fertility decline in Bangladesh. It is well known that overpopulation is a profound environmental stressor. Most third-world nations find themselves in a feedback loop of declining resources, which leads to increased mortality, which leads to increased birth rates, which leads to an increased burden on natural resources. Bangladesh is an overpopulated, resource-poor country, yet it has achieved a rapid decline in fertility to 2.78 births per woman in 2001.


By examining the cultural, economic, environmental, and institutional context in which fertility decisions are being made, I have demonstrated that the intense incorporation of population control objectives into development strategies of Bangladesh has shaped an environment within which family planning programs can succeed. Many factors contributed to this success, but a key factor was the enormous commitment on the part of various nongovernmental organizations to programs that improve the status of women in the country. While maintaining the highly paternalistic culture that prevails in Bangladesh, women have improved their social position enough to have a voice in fertility decisions. This research is valuable to those seeking to decrease the enormous stresses on the environment in overpopulated developing nations such as Bangladesh. With proper guidance, the approach used in Bangladesh can be exported to other developing nations that struggle with high birth rates and the resulting overburdened environment.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, Bangladesh, fertility decline, overpopulation, family planning, population control objectives, environmental decisionmaking, environmental stressors, social status, third-world nations, developing nations.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000
  • Final