Microcredit, Family Planning Programs, and Contraceptive Behavior: Evidence From a Field Experiment in Ethiopia
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- Desai, J. & Tarozzi, A. Demography (2011) 48: 749. doi:10.1007/s13524-011-0029-0
The impact of community-based family planning programs and access to credit on contraceptive use, fertility, and family size preferences has not been established conclusively in the literature. We provide additional evidence on the possible effect of such programs by describing the results of a randomized field experiment whose main purpose was to increase the use of contraceptive methods in rural areas of Ethiopia. In the experiment, administrative areas were randomly allocated to one of three intervention groups or to a fourth control group. In the first intervention group, both credit and family planning services were provided and the credit officers also provided information on family planning. Only credit or family planning services, but not both, were provided in the other two intervention groups, while areas in the control group received neither type of service. Using pre- and post-intervention surveys, we find that neither type of program, combined or in isolation, led to an increase in contraceptive use that is significantly greater than that observed in the control group. We conjecture that the lack of impact has much to do with the mismatch between women’s preferred contraceptive method (injectibles) and the contraceptives provided by community-based agents (pills and condoms).