Union Formalization and Contraceptive Use in Southern Malawi

Monica J. Grant , University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kirsten Stoebenau, University of Maryland
Isabel Pike, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Many studies have examined how young women’s contraceptive use varies by marital or parity status. Less frequent, however, are studies that consider how variations in marital practice, in particular the degree of union formality, translate into differences in reproductive behavior. In this paper, we use data from the Malawi Schooling and Adolescent Study (MSAS) to examine the association between union formality and contraceptive use for a sample of married women aged 20-23 years old. The MSAS collected data from two districts in southern Malawi, predominantly matrilineal communities where bridewealth is not exchanged. Unions are formalized by the involvement of ankhoswe, or further solemnized by traditional or religious ceremonies. Preliminary analyses indicate that women with religious ceremonies have significantly lower modern contraceptive use than women in less formal unions.

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