What do they know? What do we know? Divergency in the partners’ statements on the couple’s contraception

Katharina S. Becker, Federal Institute for Population Research, Germany

In demography and social sciences, contraception is rarely addressed from a couple perspective. Existing findings on contraceptive behaviour mainly are based on information mentioned by only one of the partners, in most cases the female partner. Only few studies provide information on contraception from both partners, giving insight into birth control practices within the couple. Hence, ambivalence, misconceptions and ambiguities in the partnerships’ contraception are rarely analysed systematically on broad database. Starting on this point, the paper analyses the dyadic perspective by regarding both partners’ statements on contraception. First findings indicate that overall, within every fourth partnership, discrepant statements on a) the question if they do practice contraception (yes or no) b) the contraceptive (method), and c) the consistency (how consequently did they use the method) can be noticed. Even when controlling for essential factors, like sex, the findings hold, indicating that we are dealing with a general phenomenon, bringing about implications for couples’ fertility and fertility research as well. A first aim of the paper is to analyse the disparity in the two different methodic approaches, comparing findings of studies on contraception in partnerships that are based on one partner’s evaluation versus multi-actor-evaluation surveys. Further, with regard to partners’ discrepancy, the paper pursues two more general goals: a) analysing influencing factors on discrepant partners’ statements on contraceptive behaviour and b) describing outcomes of the different convergence-divergence-patterns. Using multi-actor-data provided by the first and second wave of the German representative study Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (pairfam), several hypotheses are put to test in bi- and multivariate analyses. For example, it is assumed that consistency in the couples’ answers is positively related to a) the partnership duration, b) the fertility history of the couple, and c) the homogeneity of the partners in socio-economic regards.

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Presented in Session 56: Contraception: comparing methods and determinants