The Path to Childbearing Is Paved With Mixed Intentions: A Longitudinal Examination of How Fertility Intentions and Contraceptive Use Relate to Pregnancy and Childbearing in Rural Malawi

Hannah Olson , University of Pennsylvania

Despite rapidly increasing contraceptive use, unintended pregnancies have remained quite stable in Malawi over several decades. Measures of unmet need may overestimate a latent demand for contraception by ignoring the strength of fertility motivations in determining behaviors. This study uses three rounds of data from the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health to assess how fertility intentions and contraceptive use relate to childbearing in rural Malawi over a six-year period. We use a multivariate logistic regression model to describe the relative odds of experiencing a birth within two-years of the previous interview based on respondents’ contraceptive use, fertility intentions, and various sociodemographic characteristics. We hypothesize that an interaction between fertility intentions and contraceptive use will better predict subsequent birth outcomes within the study sample by capturing both the strength of the contraceptive intention and the degree of proactive contraceptive behavior undertaken to implement stated intentions.

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 Presented in Session 10. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior & Reproductive Health 2