Fertility and Contraception - An Analysis with National Level Data

Analyses of data from recent demographic surveys reveal that fertility has declined quite significantly in many countries, and most demographers and population analysts agree that a large part of this decline may be attributed to an increase in the use of contraception among couples of reproductive age. There is a direct linkage between the use of contraception and fertility decline, and this paper attempts to uncover the correlates of the use of contraception, and hence of fertility decline, by analyzing national level data from 93 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, Near East and North Africa, Asia and Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean, and East Europe and Central Asian Republics.

The data were taken from Population Reports (vol. 27(2), July 1999:24-27), and from the 1997 World Population Data Sheet. The main variable of interest is the percentage of couples using contraception which has been collapsed into three groups of countries: group 1 (low rates of use), group 2 (medium rates of use), and group 3 (high rates of use). The technique called canonical discriminant analysis has been used to identify those variables that discriminate among the groups most.

The analysis shows that the total fertility rate is the most influential variable in discriminating among the groups of countries with low (group 1), medium (group 2), and high (group 3) rates of the use of contraception, followed by the percentage of children under 15 years of age, human development index, urban population, population growth rate, gross national product, and child mortality, in that order.

Policy implications are discussed.