Does young women’s empowerment influence fertility intentions?

Kerry MacQuarrie, The DHS Program (Avenir Health)

This study examines associations between young women’s empowerment and fertility intentions using data from 10 Demographic and Health Surveys. One challenge is that most measures of empowerment apply only to married adults. We developed a Youth Empowerment (YE) index with 6 dimensions, suitable for use with youth regardless of marital or school status or age. This study first describes patterns of YE and two measures of fertility intentions: ideal number of children and use/intention to use contraception. It then uses multivariable regression analysis to assess the association between YE and fertility intentions, controlling for other factors. YE is lowest in Mali (13% highly empowered) and highest in the Philippines (81%). We find a significant, negative bivariate association between YE and ideal number of children in all 10 study countries, that remains significant in 6 countries in multivariable analysis. YE is significantly, positively associated with use of contraception and, among non-users, intention to use contraception in 8 of 10 countries. After controlling for other factors, these associations remain significant in 5 and 8 countries, respectively. The largest differences are generally between the high YE and medium YE categories. These findings justify the pursuit of gender equity and YE as programmatic goals.

Keywords: Gender, Children and youth, Family planning and contraception, Fertility and childbirth

See paper.

  Presented in Session 157. Female Empowerment, Fertility and Sexual Violence