Global Health Observatory (GHO)

Modern contraceptive prevalence: inequality by educational level

Situation

Inequality is shown by women's educational level, reported in 66 low- and middle-income study countries, based on DHS and MICS data, 2005–2012.

Within low- and middle-income countries, less-educated subgroups tended to have a lower prevalence of modern contraceptive use than more-educated subgroups. The median coverage in country subgroups with no education, primary education, and secondary education or higher was 18.4%, 29.7% and 34.9%, respectively.

The prevalence of modern contraceptive methods was higher in middle-income countries than low-income countries. In each education subgroup the median coverage in middle-income countries was greater than the corresponding median coverage in low-income countries. For example, among subgroups with primary education the median prevalence of modern contraceptive methods in middle-income and low-income study countries was 36.6% and 19.7%, respectively.

Low- and middle-income study countries from the WHO African Region tended to report low modern contraceptive methods coverage, compared with study countries from other WHO regions. (Note that the WHO European Region was excluded from this comparison due to the low number of study countries). In the WHO African Region study countries, the median coverage among subgroups with no education, primary education, and secondary education or higher was 10.4%, 19.0% and 28.6%, respectively.

Important considerations when interpreting the results:

  • The data were taken from surveys which were not conducted in the same year in all countries. Data reflect the situation in a country at the time of the survey which, naturally, is subject to change.
  • Estimates are subject to sample variability, typically indicated by confidence intervals. For the sake of readability, only point estimates are shown.

Trends

Changes in inequality are shown by women's educational level, reported in 32 low- and middle-income study countries, based on DHS and MICS data, 1996–2002 and 2006–2012.

Between 1996–2002 and 2006–2012, the prevalence of modern contraceptive methods tended to increase among non-educated women and those with primary education. The median prevalence increased from 9.3% to 21.7% among non-educated women and from 19.8% to 32.7% among women with primary education during this period. However, study countries reported mixed patterns of change among women with secondary education or higher. The median prevalence of modern contraceptive methods among the most educated women showed a marginal increase (35.6% in 1996-2002 and 40.1% in 2006-2012).

Important considerations when interpreting the results:

  • For trends, the period between two sequential surveys in each country is usually 10–12 years; however, this period ranges from six to 14 years.
  • Estimates are subject to sample variability, typically indicated by confidence intervals. For the sake of readability, only point estimates are shown.
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