Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Lottery of birth
Lottery of birth

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.


This free course was written by Pam Foley.

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated in the acknowledgements section, this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

The material acknowledged below is Proprietary and used under licence (not subject to Creative Commons Licence). Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:


Figure 1: Bartosz Hadyniak: Getty Images

Figure 2: Kameleon007:

Figure 3: World Health Organisation;

Figure 4: nattrass;

Figure 6: BSIP; Getty Images

Figure 7: DFID in Flickr licenses/ by-nd/ 2.0/

Figure 10: Josef Friedhuber;

Figure 11: Stepanie Rausser; Getty Images

Figure 12: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/

Figure 13: ineskoleva/iStock Photo

Figures 14, 15 and 16: Maps based on United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015). World Contraceptive Use 2015 (POP/DB/CP/Rev2015). See: en/ development/ desa/ population/ publications/ dataset/ contraception/ wcu2015.shtml

Figure 17: Stefan Hoedrath; Getty Images

Figure 18: Ullstein Bild; Getty Images

Figure 19: Zhou Yuwei, 1986 in Flickr licenses/ by/ 2.0/

Figure 20: jumaydesigns;

Figure 21: Allkindza;

Figure 22: © Milla Kontkanen; Alamy

Figure 23: photobac;

Figure 24: gisele/

Figure 25: DFID UK in Flickr made available under


Extract from the Save the Children report, State of the World’s Mother, pp. 56–9 © Save the Children (2013)

Extract from May, J.F. (2012) World Population Politics: Their Origin Evolution and Impact, London, Springer, pp. 261–2

Extract from Hartas, D. (2014) Parenting, Family Policy and Children’s Well-being in an Unequal Society: A New Culture War for Parents, London, Palgrave Macmillan.

Audio visual

Video: Early Roman Birth. 2nd Century : © The Open University and its licensors

Demographic Transition: KHAN Academy (2014) .

Hans Rosling: Don’t Panic: The Truth About Population: Wingspan Productions Limited

Extract from ‘Parents with disabilities’: © BBC, We Won’t Drop the Baby

Every effort has been made to contact copyright owners. If any have been inadvertently overlooked, the publishers will be pleased to make the necessary arrangements at the first opportunity.

Don't miss out:

1. Join over 200,000 students, currently studying with The Open University – choose/ ou/ open-content

2. Enjoyed this? Find out more about this topic or browse all our free course materials on OpenLearn – openlearn/

3. Outside the UK? We have students in over a hundred countries studying online qualifications – – including an MBA at our triple accredited Business School.