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Submitted by Asif Dowla on
You are overselling the role of stipends for girls in reducing fertility rate in Bangladesh. The whole thing started with family planning extension workers experiences in Matlab. Soon the policymakers realize that one needs female extension workers. Once there was a sizable number of people started using birth control, the norm of lower family size started talking hold. Research based on Matlab suggest that villages where there was no intervention learned by noticing the practices of nearby villages. There was a massive social marketing programs emphasizing the need for small families. Growing up in Bangladesh, you could not get out of the house without seeing a message about the need for small family. You would see the campaign in stamps, postcards, in bill boards, behind the rickshaws. They were in the form of cartoons so that illiterate people can get the message. The most famous one would state,"whether it is male of female, two is enough." I wish I would saved some of these to show my students in the economics of developing country class. Internet superstar, Hans Rosling has a great talk about the Bangladesh Miracle http://www.gapminder.org/videos/gapcasts/gapcast-5-bangladesh-miracle/ More importantly, the government recruited the religious leaders in getting the message across. Imams were talking about the need for small family in Friday sermons. Female students stipend is a newcomer in the field. It is helping, but the declining trend in fertility started many years ago because of the impact of the interventions mentioned above.