Social interaction and contraceptive change in northern Ghana
Feyisetan,Bamikale J.; Phillips,James F.; Binka,Fred N.
African Population Studies 18(2): 47-67
Publication date: 2003
The role of diffusion in reproductive change has received great attention in the literature. Underlying the various studies is the assumption that the information or behaviour of one person can have spillover effects on the motivations of another (Montgomery and Casterline, 1998). Two fundamental components of diffusion are identified: social learning and social influence. Social learning refers to the acquisition of information from others, which in the case of fertility control may include information on the types of contraceptive methods available, the health side effects of the methods and the cost of the methods. Social influence, on the other hand, refers to the power that individuals exercise over each other through authority, deference, and social conformity pressures. Using data obtained from the 1995 and 1998 demographic and health panel surveys we examine the impact of social interaction on the adoption of contraception in the Kassena-Nankana district of Northern Ghana. Three major distinct groups of respondents were defined by the social interaction variable: women whose family planning discussion partners are contraceptive users or encouragers (or both); women whose family planning conversational partners are neither users nor encouragers; women who reported never having discussed family planning with their social network partners. While the social interaction variable pertains to the time of the 1995 survey, contraceptive use is at the time of the 1998 survey. Results from this study suggest that social interaction about family planning triggers changes in contraceptive behaviour in the rural areas of Northern Ghana. For the majority of women, the decision to initiate family planning practice is facilitated by informal discussions with social network partners who encourage contraceptive adoption.