Just what is women’s health worth?
Earlier this week, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush took some heat for a misguided remark, delivered in the context of calling for Planned Parenthood to be stripped of its federal funding. “I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” Bush said.
Bush later tried to walk it back, saying that he misspoke and that, of course, the funds from Planned Parenthood should be funneled into other, more worthy, women’s health initiatives.
Whether it’s at Planned Parenthood or other projects, money spent on women’s health is money well spent. Of course, the motivation for providing health services to women shouldn’t come down to dollars and cents, and it certainly shouldn’t be about political gamesmanship. But for those who want cost-benefit justification, there’s ample reason.
A recent paper put out by NBER highlights the importance of female health for financial success in developing countries by comparing the economic gains enjoyed based on targeted health increases for men or women. The conclusion? “Female health is more conducive to economic development.”
Healthier women, who are able to control their fertility, increase their educational attainment and participate in the labor force in greater numbers. That results in economic gains for their households. Those without the ability to control their own fertility had decreased opportunities for education and higher wages.