Unmet Need for Family Planning: What Can We Learn from the DHS Five-Year Contraceptive Calendar Data?
Toshiko Kaneda, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
Rhonda Smith, Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
Using the Demographic and Health Survey five-year contraceptive calendar data from 13 countries in Africa and Asia, we examined two aspects of unmet need for family planning among women of reproductive age: (1) the extent to which point-in-time measures of unmet need miss the magnitude of the problem, compared to measures over the five-year period prior to the survey and (2) the extent to which women had more than one episode of unmet need in the same five-year timeframe. Our preliminary results suggest that the current point-in-time measure masks the magnitude of unmet need. They also suggest that point-in-time measures conceal the complexity and recurring nature of the problem as many women experience multiple episodes of unmet need over time. Unmet need may be best thought of as a fluid state, with women cycling in and out of need as their fertility desires and situations change.