Trends in contraceptive use and determinants of choice in China: 1980-2010

Cuntong Wang, Central University of Finance and Economics, China

Background: In China, contraception is the most commonly used practice adopted by couples seeking to limit their number of children and to determine the time interval between births. Since 1980, the implementation of mandatory contraceptive strategy has reduced the fertility rate. Using large-scale data from national statistics and nationally representative sample surveys, the current study aims to assess Chinese trends in contraceptive use, and determinants of choice, from 1980 to 2010 among married couples aged 20-49. Results: A relatively stable Chinese mode of contraception has been established and maintained since the 1980s. This is characterized by long-term contraceptive use which is still dominant in current China. In addition, China’s total contraceptive prevalence remains at the highest level across the globe from 1980 to 2010. However, the overall method composition of contraceptive use within China has changed since the mid-1990s. The results from the multinomial logit model show that an individual’s contraceptive choice depends not only on individual characteristics, including ethnicity, age, education level, household registration, region, number of living children, sex of the last living child, but also on the strength of family planning policies. A positive coefficient indicates that the looser the strength of family planning policies, the more likely the individual is to choose condoms or another short-term contraceptive method. Conclusions: Long-term contraceptive use is still dominant in China. In fact, over the 30 year period, 1980-2010, and in comparative world perspective, China continues to have the highest total contraceptive utilization rate. Additionally, an individual’s contraceptive choice is jointly influenced by the strength of family planning policies and individual characteristics.

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Presented in Session 56: Contraception: comparing methods and determinants