Birth Control History

Birth Control History


Humans have always had different opinions concerning reproduction. People have adopted various ways to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Several factors have contributed to the variation in the views and methods of controlling birth. The major factor is an increased population on the globe that already struggles with scarce resources, available for survival. Individuals in the regions where there are plenty of resources tend to fairly control their birth numbers. At the same time, regions that have already become overpopulated strictly control the reproduction of their population since their resources are already depleted. Overpopulation strains global economy significantly, which causes the need for the management of population growth. Small populations enjoy good resource utilization opportunities, which gives them better living conditions. Birth control has existed and has been practiced for thousands of years; moreover, it has experienced significant changes due to advancements in science.

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Indicators for the Early Existence of Birth Control

History records the instances of birth control before the First World War as an indication of its prior existence. The human population before this war was small and only a few areas practiced birth control. Methods, which were used, recorded little procedures. Among the regions that had achieved prevention measures for unwanted pregnancies was France. Moreover, this was the first European region to implement such measures. Thus, France had a policy that encouraged late marriages (van de Walle and De Luca 537). Such a policy considered the fact that fertility decreased with age, which allowed slowing down the number of births per household. As time went by, a further decrease in the population was experienced due to many aged individuals and not enough young people. By the start of World War One, the French population was almost within a constant range.

The entry of immigrants into the USA saw the movement of whites from the coastal regions deeper into the mainland. Low births were recorded in these regions, but the inner parts of the USA recorded higher birth numbers due to higher immigrant populations, arriving there (van De Walle and De Luca 543). The US elite was concerned about the economic status in society. They advocated the continuity of traditional birth control means that included withdrawal and abstinence. Increased research and developments by non-governmental organizations made other fertility control factors available. They included condoms and spermicides. A challenge of cost was evident since only the rich could afford to buy and use them. This factor further became a hindrance to economic growth since the rural populations needed to control their fertility. Had birth control never been introduced, such an occurrence could have not led to the emergence of family planning councils in both the United States and Europe. They were to oversee the measures that governments could use to regulate the populations of their countries.

One might wonder if other regions of the world were concerned about birth control. Countries started showing interest and learning about scientific ways that would allow regulating fertility. In the period before World War Two and a few years after it, the globe had a very limited access to information about birth control. One of the few countries that had some practice of birth control procedures was the United States. The United Nations in its conventions received various requests by population councils from different countries and their non-governmental organizations regarding the regulation of fertility as a global concern. Their main reason was that of increased poverty and a widespread inequality, caused by overpopulation.

More funds were allocated to aid in the research and application of family planning programs around the world. The USA provided funds through the collaboration with the United Nations. Fertility centers globally received the finances, and by early 1970, the majority of countries already had policies, involving family planning measures (Merchant). In line to birth control, other related factors that contributed to this issue were also studied. They included migrations and mortality rates. Maintaining such factors was also believed to put the birth control issue under manageable levels.

The Global Spread of Birth Control

The end of World War Two led to various regions of the world adopting birth control due to a rapid growth in population in these parts of the world. Those that recorded increased numbers in terms of population size included Africa and the Asian continent. Latin America also experienced an increase, although it was not that big as compared to Asia and Africa. Back then, the United States of America had a significant influence on the global business. Thus, the US non-governmental organizations introduced the idea of controlling the world population. Such a move required significant resources that were readily available in the US government. Consultation with the targeted countries was not going to be easy since such a move was initially based on the idea that the increase of global population was a threat. Instead, non-governmental organizations approached the matter by reframing it to be a question involving technology. This concept was acceptable since it required shared ideas on how to deal effectively with global birth indexes. Since then, numerous successive researches have been done with the US government in collaboration with the governments of other countries.

Later periods from 1945 to 1960 were characterized by an increase in population. The recovery of many countries after World War Two began, while some colonies were also ready to establish their independence.  However, colonization and the Cold War led to the fact that many poor countries were controlled by superior nations, especially the USA and European countries (Merchant). The surge of industrialization caused poor regions, such as the Asian continent and Latin America, experience reduced mortality with the resulting increase in their population.  Colonial governments provided measures that eliminated or reduced diseases, famine, and violence. Following these measures, the population increased in order to enhance the collection of revenues and increased returns.

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At the same time, French colonial powers encouraged population growth in their colonies. They believed that a small population was a hindrance to economic growth. Instead, they preferred large numbers of people since this would lead to civilization (van Beusekom). Operating in agricultural regions with other favorable factors, such as the abundance of food and a good climate, French colonies in West Africa grew larger. After several years, the French realized that rural development was not achieved as planned since the large population was a rather big hindrance to the growth of economy. This led to their change of perception and they opted for ways of how to regulate and control the fertility in their colonies. Such an idea was pursued not only by the French but also by other colonial governments.

However, European countries demonstrated fertility decline of their populations. Thus, European governments initiated economic and political independence, which led to the shift of many poor people to the middle class. There was no longer exploitation and oppressive punishments. Thus, for the European community, the improvements in lifestyle became a rapid route to achieving a decline in fertility. Capitalism had to be adopted in the majority of European countries after the destructions caused in the Second World War (Wilmoth and Ball 1977). Politics provides the solution to increased populations through the introduction of birth control mechanisms. The introduction of industries under the capitalist policies was one of the factors to be considered.

Colonial period’s birth control initiatives in Africa were experienced through the empowerment of women. With the introduction of capitalism, the norms that tied women to be always subordinate to their husbands disappeared (van Beusekom 206). Subjecting women to the status of mere workers rendered them poor and they were considered inferior in society. This led to uncontrolled decision-making, so women were always pregnant. Contrary to this, the investments into African countries have led to family planning as women are no longer tools for their husbands. Instances whereby women are no longer considered inferior in society leads to creativity and innovations in the social life. Reproduction obtains a new meaning for people since they start viewing it from the economic perspective. Women make birth control decisions as the top priority in their lives.

Birth Control in China

Different regions of the world practiced unique birth control procedures, which indicated advancements in fertility control. An Asian region of interest is China that has also contributed greatly to the history of birth control. Many studies have related the Chinese traditions to its robust population. Most Chinese households rarely controlled their reproduction. A family could have as many children as one could have according to traditions (Wolf and Engelen 356). Male children were of great value, which motivated community members to have as many sons as possible. This uncontrolled growth in the population led to the initiation of a campaign to educate the Chinese families regarding family planning. The campaign was launched in 1982.

As for fertility control in pre-Revolutionary China, very little control measures were enacted during that period. Chinese communities practiced early marriages. Being married at an early age meant increased reproduction since young people were at their peak of fertility (Wolf and Engelen 356). Some people practiced birth control deliberately, but it was considered a personal matter that was not within the community beliefs. Other factors, which contributed to an increased population, were the abundance of food and industrialization processes. People enjoyed basic needs since they could afford them, and they procreated freely. 

The one child policy was the idea of the Chinese government. The government had to implement such a measure due to the projection that the population growth rate would have been abnormally large by the end of the 20th century (Zhao 754). The main target of this policy was the urban population that had better living conditions than people in rural areas. In cities, economic and social security factors were much more favorable and they could facilitate reproduction. Those who lived in rural areas were exempted from this policy. The reason behind this move was the fact that such families mostly belonged to minority groups that needed to increase their numbers to avoid being extinct.

The Future of Birth Control                      

Research has made a great progress in the control of the world’s population. Thus, the birth control mechanisms have evolved greatly, from natural means in the 19th century to the scientific means of today (Merchant 1931). The USA contributed significant resources to the studies and the improvement of available means of birth control. Condom and spermicides have undergone great improvements. While only rich Americans could afford to use these birth control methods during and after World War periods due to their high price, nowadays, these contraception methods are available to almost people in the world. This measure has allowed to put the world population under strict control. However, the development and evolution of birth control methods has faced stiff challenges since some regions’ culture does not recognize fertility control. Nevertheless, with time, more and more people understand the need for controlling the world’s population.


In summary, birth control has undergone many changes since ancient times from the practice of few individuals to being a global concern. Many regions have experienced transitions since both World Wars, which enabled them to develop proper population controls. For instance, China had adopted a one child policy that has prevented the abnormal growth of the global population. Scientific research ensures the improvements in birth control measures. The better and advanced such a measure is, the better result can be obtained. Governments need to pass legislations that make family planning more efficient. Individuals should be enlightened on the importance of managing their fertility rates properly.

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