Women’s education and empowerment are important predictors of contraceptive use across countries. However, two of the Indian states, namely, Punjab and Manipur, showed large variations in contraceptive use, despite the similar level of women’s educational attainment and empowerment. Therefore, this paper attempts to understand variation in contraceptive use between these states, despite having similar level of educational attainment and empowerment among the married women.
This study primarily used cross-sectional data of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015–16 and to some extent the District Level Household Survey (DLHS) 2012–13 data. The analytical sample includes 13,730 currently married women in Punjab and 8,872 in Manipur. Modern contraceptive prevalence rate (mCPR) is the key outcome variable of this study. Bivariate, multivariate, and multilevel regression analysis are applied to understand the differences in mCPR between these states and its determinants.
Mean years of schooling was about 8 years among women of both the states, and about 34% of the women in Punjab and 27% of the women in Manipur have high level of autonomy. Despite this, use of modern method was 66% in Punjab and only 13% in Manipur. Coverage of family planning program indicators were significantly lower in Manipur than Punjab – frontline workers’ (FLWs) outreach for family planning was only 18% in Manipur compared to 52% in Punjab. Similarly, only 11% of the public health facilities in Manipur compared to 50% of the health facilities in Punjab were ready to provide at least one clinical method of family planning.
Despite the similar level of individual level characteristics across the two states, poor coverage of family planning programs – low outreach of FLWs, low level of facility readiness, as well as sociocultural norms discouraging contraceptive use – might be responsible for lower contraceptive use in Manipur than Punjab. This implies for strengthening the health system for family planning in Manipur to meet the contraception needs of women by addressing sociocultural barriers in the state.