The Paradox of Declining Fertility and Declining Contraceptive Use in India

Sonalde B. Desai , India Human Development Survey
Santanu Pramanik, National Council of Applied Economic Research
Bijay Chouhan, National Council of Applied Economic Research

Comparison of data from India’s National Family Health Survey waves 3 and 4, conducted in 2005-6 and 2015-16 respectively, document a puzzling trend. Fertility has declined rapidly between the two surveys but instead of increasing, contraceptive use has also declined. Analysis of data in this paper suggests that massive expansion of sample size from over 100,000 household to over 600,000 households may have led to deterioration in data quality, particularly for contraceptive use. These results point to the dangers of expecting survey data to provide estimates of demographic trends for policy purposes at highly disaggregated geographic levels. It is also possible that a changing method-mix from permanent to temporary methods may require less public interview setting to avoid increasing measurement error in contraceptive use over time.

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 Presented in Session 1. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, & Reproductive Health 1