Gender inequality and the 'East-West' divide in contraception : an analysis at the individual, the couple, and the country level
Faculty of Social Sciences. Communication Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Social science and medicine (1982). - Oxford
, p. 1-12
University of Antwerp
Despite generally low fertility rates in Europe, contraceptive behavior varies to a substantial extent. The dichotomy between Western, and Central and Eastern European countries is particularly relevant. Whereas the former are characterized by the widespread use of modern contraception, the latter show a high prevalence of traditional methods to control fertility. The current study aims to examine whether these differences can be attributed to differences in women's individual status, and in gender inequality at the couple and the country level. We combine data from the Generations and Gender Survey (2004-2011) and the Demographic Health Survey (2005-2009), covering seventeen European countries, to perform multinomial multilevel analyses. The results confirm that higher educated and employed women, and women who have an equal occupational status relative to their partner are more likely to use modern reversible contraception instead of no, traditional, or permanent methods. Absolute and relative employment are also positively related to using female instead of male methods. Furthermore, it is shown that higher levels of country-level gender equality are associated with a higher likelihood of using modern reversible and female methods, but not sterilization. Particularly country levels of gender equality are linked to the East-West divide in type of contraceptive method used. Our findings underscore that women's higher status is closely related to their use of effective, female contraception. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.