Kin influence on the decision to start using modern contraception: a longitudinal study from rural Gambia.

Ruth Mace, University College London
Heidi Colleran, University College London

In earlier work on this population we found that patrilineal kin, especially husbands mother, has an effect of increasing fertility, whereas matrilineal kin, especially the maternal grandmother, did not increase fertilty but helped to keep children alive. Here we examined the role of husband’s and woman’s parents on the decision to start using contraception. Using time varying models, we find that neither maternal or paternal grandmothers or neighbours contraceptive use had a significant effect on time to first use, once temporal and village effects were controlled for. However death of first husband (widowhood) did accelerate first use of modern contraception. Several sociodemographic variables (including age specific fertility) did strongly predict time to first use of modern contraption. We interpret our finding as women making decisions about use of modern contraception being better explained by behavioural ecology than by cultural transmission.

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Presented in Session 12: Darwinian approaches to explaining demographic transition