The Causal Effect of Improved Access to Family Planning on Postpartum Contraceptive Use: Evidence From a Field Experiment in Urban Malawi

Mahesh Karra , Boston University
David Canning, Harvard University

We conduct a field experiment that identifies the causal impact of a comprehensive intervention to improve access to family planning on postpartum contraceptive use in urban Malawi. A sample of 2,055 married women aged 18-35 and who were either pregnant or had recently given birth were randomly assigned to either an intervention arm or a control arm. Women assigned to the intervention arm received a package of services over a two-year intervention period. Services included: 1) a brochure and up to six home visits from family planning counselors; 2) free transportation to a high-quality family planning clinic; and 3) financial reimbursement for family planning services, consultations, and referrals for services. Findings indicate that contraceptive use among women in the intervention group is between 4.3 and 5.1 percentage points higher than contraceptive use among women in the control group after a one-year exposure to the intervention.

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 Presented in Session 229. Contraceptive Behavior in Developing Countries