Conducting research to inform policies that benefit women, men and youth around the world
Unwanted pregnancy, adolescent childbearing, unsafe abortion, and sexually transmitted infections exact a heavy toll on the health and lives of women, men, and adolescents worldwide. Despite great advancements in reproductive health in recent decades, efforts to address these critical issues are all too often impeded by ideological rhetoric, fear-based messaging, and misinformation. Objective scientific research can provide—and indeed has provided—a path to meet these challenges and make a real difference in advancing sexual and reproductive health.
As the world’s leading think tank for the study of sexual and reproductive health, the Guttmacher Institute has been a driving force for positive change for nearly 50 years. The Institute serves as the scientific backbone of a movement working to ensure that people everywhere are empowered to achieve their childbearing desires and safeguard their reproductive health. By documenting the experiences and needs of women, men, and teens around the world, Guttmacher provides the evidence necessary to create data-driven policies and programs that impact lives every day.
This commitment to producing and disseminating science has been recognized widely. Philanthropedia named Guttmacher the nation’s number one reproductive health nonprofit two times in a row, based on a survey of experts. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has referred to the Institute as “the gold standard for reproductive health research.” The Institute is one of the few non-university organizations to receive a grant from the prestigious Population Center program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These accolades, combined with a long track record for producing research of the highest standard, afford the Guttmacher Institute unrivalled credibility in debates over reproductive health issues, and place the Institute in a position to combat and discredit misinformation.
Guttmacher is distinguished in its focus on conducting research that addresses issues facing millions of people and then communicating findings to decision-makers in order to influence policy change. Guttmacher’s research answers the important questions that help policymakers, program implementers, healthcare providers and other key audiences bring about beneficial change. And the Institute’s expertise in evidence-based communications ensures that findings are accessible and the implications clear to those who are empowered to take action.
This commitment to actionable research leads scientists at the Institute to produce work that cannot be found anywhere else. Its studies are published in some of the most prestigious scientific journals worldwide, a testament to the organization’s unimpeachable commitment to best research practices. In addition to the rigor that underlies their research, scientists and staff at the Guttmacher Institute are united by their passion for improving reproductive health everywhere. A particular focus surrounds disadvantaged populations, both in the United States and in developing countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, with an eye toward reducing disparities and inequities in reproductive health.
Instead of maintaining overseas offices, the Institute works with local researchers in truly collaborative partnerships. Through these collaborations, the Institute gains deep insights into each country’s unique cultural and policy contexts, and its partners gain important skills in research design, data collection and analysis, and writing for scientific journals. Guttmacher experts also train international partners to communicate science effectively for a policy audience. With this collaborative and empowering approach, Guttmacher researchers have made a particularly strong contribution to advancing the careers of developing-country scholars and to bringing about policy and program reform on some of the most challenging sexual and reproductive health issues in the world.
Current research includes:
Family Planning: The Guttmacher Institute conducts pioneering research on the health and economic impacts of family planning services both nationally and internationally. Guttmacher studies documenting the need for and benefits of no-cost contraception in the United States were instrumental in the creation of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage guarantee. Overseas, Guttmacher’s studies looking at the costs and benefits of investing in family planning and maternal and newborn health in the developing world have helped mobilize billions of dollars to support access to life-saving programs.
Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion: The Guttmacher Institute is the leader in measuring unintended pregnancy and abortion, two critical indicators of reproductive health. In the U.S., the Institute has been the sole source for complete data on abortion since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, and regularly produces data on unintended pregnancy at the national and state levels. In the developing world, the Institute’s researchers have developed methodologies to estimate abortion even in settings where it is illegal and/or takes place outside the formal health sector. Currently, the Institute is engaged in a large-scale project to estimate the incidence of abortion in India. Guttmacher is carrying out this study in partnership with two local Indian organizations, consistent with its commitment to building the capacity of in-country researchers and ensuring country ownership of findings.
State Laws and Policies: The Guttmacher Institute’s policy research includes a robust state monitoring effort that tracks laws and policies on the full range of sexual and reproductive health issues, including abortion, family planning, sex education, and more. For example, Guttmacher’s analyses of state abortion restrictions have shed light on the dramatic spike in restrictions in recent years.
Adolescents: Guttmacher research put the issue of teen pregnancy on the agenda in the United States in the 1970s, and since that time the Institute has continued to generate influential studies on adolescent reproductive health. Recent Guttmacher research showed that the steep decline in the U.S. teen pregnancy rate over the past two decades was primarily due to improved use of contraceptives among teens—as opposed to, as some social conservatives have claimed, an increase in teens practicing premarital abstinence. This and other Guttmacher research played a key role in the elimination of virtually all federal funding for “abstinence-until-marriage” programs for teens.
$5,000 can support the design of an infographic that will allow the results of a Guttmacher Institute study to be quickly grasped and shared widely online.
$25,000 can provide the support the creation of a comprehensive fact sheet that distills the results of a Guttmacher Institute research study.
$50,000 can execute a comprehensive dissemination strategy that gets Guttmacher data into the hands of key individuals who can develop new programs and policies.
$75,000 can support the development of a new scientific paper on an important sexual and reproductive health issue.
$100,000 can support an exploratory study to test a new methodology or address a major research gap.
$250,000 or more can underwrite a new research project that will deepen our understanding of sexual and reproductive health and provide evidence to support policy and program change.
Members of the Guttmacher Institute research team are motivated by a desire to improve the sexual and reproductive health of people everywhere. They work to enable women and their partners to take control of their reproductive lives and safeguard their sexual health, and to reduce persistent socioeconomic disparities in access to sexual and reproductive health care in the United States and worldwide.
Through rigorous research grounded in best practices, the Guttmacher Institute is able to provide evidence to document key indicators of sexual and reproductive health. At the Guttmacher Institute, researchers work in a highly collaborative way, benefiting from the collective work of an entire team of dedicated scientists comprising 15 senior researchers who are world-renowned demographers and experts in sexual and reproductive health as well as highly capable mid-level and junior researchers. Junior research staff, many of whom come to the Institute as recent undergraduates, develop valuable skills that often propel them lead them to pursue Ph.D.’s and careers in the field. In addition to the collaborations that exist within its own walls, the Guttmacher Institute maintains close partnerships with developing-country scholars around the world, as well as formal collaborations with the schools of public health at Columbia and Johns Hopkins, and with major international groups such as the World Health Organization. These collaborations have been key to the Institute’s successes in publishing important evidence and influencing policy and program changes.