, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 283-302

The legacies of context: Past and present influences on contraceptive choice in Nang Rong, Thailand

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This study explores the ways in which women’s contraceptive behavior in a rural area of Thailand is shaped by both past and present context, based on the life course framework. Although the importance of contextual influences for contraceptive behavior is well established in the literature, relatively little research has been conducted that explores how behavior is influenced by historical and contemporaneous contextual factors and by individual life experiences. In addition, much of this research has neglected the role of the normative environment within which contraceptive use takes place. The focus of this paper centers on the effect of contraceptive environment at both early and late stages of the life course and on how this effect is shaped by individual experience with migration to urban areas. This study takes advantage of a unique, prospective longitudinal data set with detailed information on community context at multiple points in time, an important improvement upon prior research. The results show that contraceptive behavior is particularly responsive to current community context, with past context primarily exerting an indirect effect on behavior through shaping current contextual influences.

This research, conducted while the author was a trainee at the Carolina Population Center, uses data from the Nang Rong Projects, a collaborative research effort of the University of North Carolina; the Carolina Population Center; and the Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR), Mahidol University, Salaya, Thailand. The research presented here was funded primarily by Grant HD37896 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. I also received support for this research from the Andrew W. Mellon and William and Flora Hewlett Foundations. I am grateful to Barbara Entwisle, Ronald Rindfuss, Lisa Pearce, Guang Guo, Emilio Parrado, and two anonymous reviewers for Demography for their comments on this article. An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, April 2004.