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Maternal Mortality Risk and the Gender Gap in Desired Fertility

Health & Psychology Zambia

Maternal mortality remains high in many parts of the developing world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Limited awareness of risk factors for maternal mortality such as maternal age and birth spacing may contribute to persistently high rates. Evidence from Zambia also shows that men’s desire to have more children than their wives hinders contraception use. This study, taking place in two government-run facilities that serve low-income areas in Lusaka, randomizes information sharing to couples of childbearing age to better understand gendered household fertility preferences. Upon arrival, couples are split into gender-specific meetings, in which they receive information on either maternal mortality, family planning, or neither based on the group to which they have been randomly assigned. Researchers measure the impact of providing this targeted information to different members of the household by tracking outcomes such as changes in knowledge and beliefs about the prevalence and risk of maternal mortality, intra-household dynamics, household demand for family planning, take-up of contraception, and realized fertility. An endline survey will examine longer term fertility outcomes, including number of children and birth spacing, as well as maternal and child health. Baseline findings from 2010-2016 suggest that information about maternal mortality encourages contraception use. Full results forthcoming.

All PIS on Project
  • Nava Ashraf
  • Erica Field
  • Alessandra Voena
  • Roberta Ziparo
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