Modern contraceptive use among illiterate women in India: does proximate illiteracy matter?

Mousumi Dutta, Presidency University
Zakir Husain, Institute of Economic Growth (IEG)
Sriparna Ghosh, Indian Institute of Management

Illiterate women comprise a particularly vulnerable section of the community. They lack empowerment, are unable to voice their choice with respect to, inter alia, contraceptive use, and also lack access to health services. However, their lack of literacy may be compensated to some extent if their partners are literate. Contraceptive use of such illiterate women (referred to as proximate literates in literature), may be higher than that of illiterate women whose partners too are illiterates (called isolate illiterates). This hypothesis is tested using the third wave of the Demographic Health Survey data for India (2005-2006). Current use of modern contraceptives was compared between these two groups (proximatea nd isolate illiterates) for socio-economic and demographic correlates. This was followed by multivariate analysis, regressing current use of modern contraceptive methods on a dummy representing whether the partner was literate, along with relevant control variables. Results indicate that the proximate illiteracy effect was present, but restricted to only specific groups and communities. Extensions to the basic model shows that higher levels of education of the spouse does not generate significant etxernalities, indicating the importance of literacy in generating externalities in the sphere of reproductive health.

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Presented in Session 56: Contraception: comparing methods and determinants

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