Adding It Up: Costs and Benefits of Contraceptive Services—Estimates for 2012

This is an archived report. The most recent estimates can be found here.


This report presents new 2012 estimates of the numbers and proportions of women in the developing world using modern methods and in need of modern contraception, as well as the cost and impact of meeting this need.

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Key Points

Key Points

• In 2012, an estimated 645 million women in the developing world were using modern methods— 42 million more than in 2008. About half of this increase was due to population growth. n The proportion of married women using modern contraceptives in the developing world as a whole barely changed between 2008 (56%) and 2012 (57%). Larger-than-average increases were seen in Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia, but there was no increase in Western Africa and Middle Africa.

• The number of women who have an unmet need for modern contraception in 2012 is 222 million. This number declined slightly between 2008 and 2012 in the developing world overall, but increased in some subregions, as well as in the 69 poorest countries.

• Contraceptive care in 2012 will cost $4.0 billion in the developing world. To fully meet the existing need for modern contraceptive methods of all women in the developing world would cost $8.1 billion per year.

• Current contraceptive use will prevent 218 million unintended pregnancies in developing countries in 2012, and, in turn, will avert 55 million unplanned births, 138 million abortions (of which 40 million are unsafe), 25 million miscarriages and 118,000 maternal deaths.

• Serving all women in developing countries who currently have an unmet need for modern methods would prevent an additional 54 million unintended pregnancies, including 21 million unplanned births, 26 million abortions (of which 16 million would be unsafe) and seven million miscarriages; this would also prevent 79,000 maternal deaths and 1.1 million infant deaths.

• Special attention is needed to ensure that the contraceptive needs of vulnerable groups such as unmarried young women, poor women and rural women are met and that inequities in knowledge and access are reduced.

• Improving services for current users and adequately meeting the needs of all women who currently need but are not using modern contraceptives will require increased financial commitment from governments and other stakeholders, as well as changes to a range of laws, policies, factors related to service provision and practices that significantly impede access to and use of contraceptive services.