Coerced Sterilization: Investigating the Impact on Fertility and Family Wellbeing. Evidence from an Aggressive Family Planning Policy in Peru in the 1990s

Tanya Byker, University of Michigan
Italo A. Gutierrez, University of Michigan

In the mid-1990’s President Fujimori of Peru initiated an aggressive family planning program to address widespread poverty. Female sterilization was a publically stated element of the program, but anecdotal evidence suggests that health workers were given large sterilization quotas and reportedly used bribes, coercion, and even force to meet them. While the details of the program were not public, the Peruvian Demographic and Health Surveys provide evidence of a large increase in sterilizations during the suspected policy window. We address three research questions: First, who was affected by the sterilization policy? Second, what was impact of the policy on fertility? Third, what, if any, impact did the policy have on household wellbeing? We find substantial impacts of the policy on fertility, but small or insignificant impacts on other household outcomes. We carefully outline the challenges and assumptions behind causal identification in our attempt to forensically estimate the impact of this policy.

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Presented in Session 212: The Effects of Government Policies on Fertility