We analyze the impact of an experimental maternal and child health and family planning program that was established in Matlab, Bangladesh, in 1977. Village data from 1974, 1982, and 1996 suggest that program villages experienced a decline in fertility of about 17 %. Household data from 1996 confirm that this decline in “surviving fertility” persisted for nearly two decades. Women in program villages also experienced other benefits: increased birth spacing, lower child mortality, improved health status, and greater use of preventive health inputs. Some benefits also diffused beyond the boundaries of the program villages into neighboring comparison villages. These effects are robust to the inclusion of individual, household, and community characteristics. We conclude that the benefits of this reproductive and child health program in rural Bangladesh have many dimensions extending well beyond fertility reduction, which do not appear to dissipate rapidly after two decades.

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