To control the nation’s overarching fecundity the government of India raised mass awareness of condoms; the chief effect of which were a load of giggling school boys and a load of giggling school girls. Further, in an initiative by Sanjay Gandhi, vasectomies were performed, nearly en masse, through a mixture of cajolement, economic incentives and coercion.
The fertility curve remained unbent.
Then along came color TV. Paul Ehrlich’s doomsday prophecies were forestalled. I know correlation is not causation, let alone abstinence. I’m just saying.
Policy is a strange and lucky beast. It can survive its futility. It is not so much occasionally inept as often incidental. And it has the epistemological luxury of not being easily falsifiable: i.e. it’s hard to prove that it was not responsible for the effect for which it was instituted.
Can you prove that it was not condoms but color TV that derailed India’s logarithmic fecundity? Good luck randomizing to the television arm.
Yes I can hear you muttering “ahem seatbelts.” This is not to say policy never achieves its desired aims. It’s to say that it’s not easy to distinguish policy’s true successes from pseudo successes.