The potential impact of improvements in contraception on fertility and abortion in western countries

  • Charles F. Westoff
  • Charles R. Hammerslough
  • Lois Paul


Survey information on fertility intentions, patterns of contraceptive use, contraceptive failures and abortions is used to develop estimates of unwanted births and of unplanned pregnancies for seven countries, by method of contraception. Potential improvements in contraception, leading to more use of highly efficient methods are considered, and several scenarios for improved contraceptive use are presented. The impact each would have on fertility levels and on abortion rates is estimated. Although improvements in contraception will have only a limited impact on fertility — which is already very low — their impact on abortion could be considerable


Western Country Efficient Method Public Finance Potential Improvement Fertility Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

L'impact potentiel du progrès de la contraception sur la fécondité et l'avortement dans les pays occidentaux


Les auteurs utilisent des données d'enquêtes sur les intentions de procréation, le recours à la contraception, les échecs de la contraception et l'avortement pour évaluer les naissances non désirées et les grossesses non planifiées, selon la méthode de contraception utilisée, dans sept pays. Ils envisagent d'éventuels progrès de la contraception conduisant à un élargissement de l'emploi de méthodes très efficaces, et évaluent, dans différents scénarios de progrès du recours à la contraception, son impact sur les niveaux de la fécondité et de l'avortement. Si le progrès de la contraception n'aura qu'un effet limité sur la fécondité — déjà très basse — son impact sur les niveaux de l'avortement pourrait être considérable.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aromaa, K., I. Cantell and R. Jaakkola, 1983, Cohabitation in Finland in the 1970s (Helsinki).Google Scholar
  2. Arvidsson, A. et al., 1984, Fertility survey in Sweden, 1981: A summary of findings (World Fertility Survey, London).Google Scholar
  3. Brody, J.E., 1986, Abortion pill expected to be sold in Europe, New York Times, Dec. 18.Google Scholar
  4. Höpflinger, F., 1985, Changing marriage behaviour: Some European comparisons, Genus XLI, 41–64.Google Scholar
  5. INSEE, 1984, La situation démographique en 1983 — Mouvement de la population (INSEE, Paris).Google Scholar
  6. Koesoebjono, S., 1986, Evolution des ménages aux Pays-Bas, 1960–1981, Population 41, no. 2, 375–378.Google Scholar
  7. Lodewijckx, E. and I.K. Impens, 1987, The impact of the contraceptive transition on the recent and future development of fertility in Flanders, Paper presented at the European Population Conference in Jyväskylä, Finland.Google Scholar
  8. Noack, T. and L. Østby, 1981, Fertility among Norwegian women: Results from the fertility survey, 1977 (Central Bureau of Statistics, Oslo).Google Scholar
  9. Pratt, W. et al., 1984, Understanding U.S. fertility, Population Bulletin (Population Reference Bureau, Washington, DC).Google Scholar
  10. Ryder, N., 1973, Contraceptive failure in the U.S., Family Planning Perspectives 5, no. 3, 133–144.Google Scholar
  11. Sagi, P.C., R.G. Potter, Jr. and C.F. Westoff, 1962, Contraceptive effectiveness as a function of desired family size, Population Studies XV, no 3, 291–296.Google Scholar
  12. Tietze, C. and S. Henshaw, 1986, Abortion: A world review (Alan Guttmacher Institute, New York).Google Scholar
  13. Trussell, T.J. and K. Kost, 1987, Contraceptive failure in the United States: A critical review of the literature, Studies in Family Planning 18, no. 5, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  14. Wellings, K., 1986, Trends in contraceptive method usage since 1970, British Journal of Family Planning, 1986, 15–22.Google Scholar
  15. World Fertility Survey, 1981, Fertility survey in France, 1978: A summary of findings (World Fertility Survey, London).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elsevier Science Publishers B.V 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles F. Westoff
    • 2
  • Charles R. Hammerslough
    • 1
  • Lois Paul
    • 2
  1. 1.University of MichiganUSA
  2. 2.Office of Population ResearchPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

Personalised recommendations