The_Law_of_Unintended_Consequences - Case Study - The Law...

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- 1 - Case Study - The Law of Unintended Consequences 1 ISE 627 Engineering Systems Scenario: The birth rate in Romania in the late 1960s was extremely low – about fifteen per thousand. The low birth rate was considered a grave problem by the government, including the dictator Nicolau Ceausesçu. The government responded by imposing policies designed to stimulate the birth rate. Importation of contraceptive devices was outlawed; propaganda campaigns extolling the virtues of large families and the patriotic duty to have more children were introduced, along with some modest tax incentives for larger families. Perhaps one of the most important changes was that abortion – freely available on demand since 1957 through the state health care system – was banned in October 1966 (David and Wright, 1971). The result was immediate and dramatic. The birth rate rose sharply to nearly forty per thousand per year. However, within months the birth rate began to fall. By the end of 1970, the birth rate had dropped to below twenty per thousand per year. Although the policy continued in force, the birth rate continued to fall, reaching sixteen per thousand per year by 1989. The system responded to the intervention in ways the government did not anticipate.
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This note was uploaded on 11/22/2009 for the course ISE 627 taught by Professor Componation during the Fall '08 term at University of Alabama - Huntsville.

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The_Law_of_Unintended_Consequences - Case Study - The Law...

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