Family planning in Iran

Between 1956 and 1986 Iran's population grew at a rate of more than 3 percent per year. The growth rate began to decline in the mid-1980s after the government initiated a major population control program. By 2007 the growth rate had declined to 0.7 percent per year, with a birth rate of 17 per 1,000 persons and a death rate of 6 per 1,000.

During the Iran-Iraq war between 1980 and 1988, a large population was viewed as a comparative advantage for Iran. Accordingly, Ayatollah Khomeini pushed procreation to bolster the ranks of "soldiers for Islam," aiming for "an army of 20 million."

Although Iran's population boom started before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, it is widely claimed that Ayatullah Khomeini's edict led to an annual population growth rate of well over 3%. United Nations data show that Iran's population doubled in just 20 years - from 27 million in 1968 to 55 million in 1988.

But in the 21st century there have been significant changes made, Iran's population growth rate dropped from an all-time high of 3.2 % in 1986 to just 1.2 % in 2001. This is one of the fastest drops ever recorded. In reducing its population growth to this level - a rate that is only slightly higher than that of the United States - Iran emerged as a model for other countries that want to lessen the risk of overpopulation. In 2007 Iran's Total Fertility Rate has dropped to 1.71 with a net out-migration of 4.29/1000.

At one point in the 1980s estimates showed that Iran's population would reach 108 million by the year 2006. But, in fact, through a variety of measures, Iran has managed to check its population growth with the population projected to only be 70 million in 2006.

This rapid decline in growth has been achieved through a combination of methods.

In 1993, Iran dropped certain maternity benefits for couples who had more than three children. According to the BBC, Iran is believed to be the only country where men and women are required to attend classes about contraception before they can obtain a marriage license.

In addition, Iran has made both condoms and contraceptive pills widely available. Contraceptive pills are available at pharmacies across Iran, and the government gives away condoms at health clinics around the country.

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