Cross-national differences in the use of contraception and abortion services between England, Wales and Scotland

Bernice Kuang, University of Southampton
Ann M. Berrington, University of Southampton

Although cross-national fertility differences have persisted for decades between England, Scotland and Wales, few studies have investigated differences in contraceptive use and abortion as proximate determinants of country-level fertility differences. This is partly due to a paucity of continuously collected and comparable data on contraceptive use within the different nations. Currently, contraceptive use rates are available for Scotland, but England and Wales only publish absolute numbers of supplies dispensed. This paper uses two data sources that are comparable across countries: published aggregate data on abortion rates and survey data pooled from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, 1990 to 2010. We find that abortion rates are lower in Scotland than in England and Wales and conclude that abortion cannot account for the lower fertility levels in Scotland. Using multinomial logistic regression, we compare use of different contraceptive methods across countries among sexually active men and women, controlling for key background characteristics, and find marked country differences in the contraceptive method mix. Our results highlight greater levels of female sterilization and lower levels of barrier/traditional method use in Scotland compared with England, which persists when background characteristics – such as religion, age, ethnicity, education – are accounted for.

Keywords: Family planning and contraception

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session P9.