While estimates of unmet need continue to be an important measure of the extent of demand for contraception and family planning programs success in developing countries, there are various reservations about the validity of these estimates. For instance, the traditional formulation of the measurement has relied solely on information from women while inferences from the findings are often drawn for couples. As more survey data have become available for both men and women in a number of countries, there is increasing evidence suggesting that husbands' preferences are indeed important determinants of the reproductive behavior of couples. This paper developsan analytical framework for measuring unmet need for couples. The approach: (1) takes a fresh look at the classification of pregnant and amenorrheic women, and (2) incorporates the contraceptive use and fertility preferences of husband and wife in estimating the level of unmet need in six sub-Saharan African countries. Our findings shows that taking these factors into account results in a 50 to 66 percent reduction in the level of unmet need in these countries. The importance of husbands' variables in determining the level of unmet need is clearly evident when examined among fecund couples in which the wife is neither pregnant nor amenorrheic. The implications of these findings for family planning programs and research are discussed.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 28, 2004
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