Menu of Policy Options


Demographic trends like falling birth rates, ageing populations, or high levels of unintended pregnancy can affect both macro-level and micro-level economic outcomes due to their impact on the labor market, economic systems, and financial systems as well as on individual or family economic well-being. Economics can also influence demographic trends: during times of economic strain or stress, many families choose to delay having children, have fewer children, or choose not to have children altogether, which – when sustained over time – can result in falling birth rates or declining populations.

Across the Asia Pacific, the APEC economies are simultaneously grappling with falling birth rates and persistent rates of unintended pregnancy and associated economic consequences. As birth rates across the region fall below replacement level, APEC economies are eager to identify policies that will reverse falling birth rates, yet many policies enacted to date have fallen short. At the same time, progress in reducing the rate of unintended pregnancy has stagnated in many APEC economies, particularly among vulnerable populations, often resulting in significant financial cost to both families and governments.

Launched at the 2022 APEC Health Week Policy Dialogue in Bangkok, Thailand, the overarching goal of the APEC Smart Families Initiative is to strengthen the capacity of APEC economies to address demographic trends through the development of comprehensive, holistic policy options inclusive of both family planning and fertility planning.

Led by Thailand as the host economy at the Policy Dialogues during the Third Senior Officials and Related Meetings (SOM3) 2022, the Thailand Ministry of Public Health, intra-government agencies, family planning experts, academics, international non-government organizations, and the private sector, launched this initiative to develop a comprehensive menu of policy options,  while also building consensus among APEC members to collaborate on addressing these demographic trends.

The Expert Working Group  met multiple times in 2022 and early 2023 which resulted in the publication of the APEC Smart Families Menu of Policy Options on the 5th of August in Seattle, Washington. The consortium of partners providing technical and policy expertise include Thailand Ministry of Public Health as Project Overseer, Organon, a pharmaceutical company aimed at delivering better medicines and solutions for women, and Jhpiego, a global health nonprofit affiliated with Johns Hopkins University that creates and delivers transformative health care solutions that save lives.