Journal Article

Contraceptive use in urban Africa: Examining trends in rich–poor gaps

Previous studies have documented significant differences in health and reproductive health outcomes between the poor and nonpoor across various countries in sub-Saharan Africa. However, a number of these studies is dated, and the past decade has witnessed significant shifts in health and reproductive health outcomes in many African countries. Using recent data from the Demographic and Health Surveys, this paper updates and extends the literature by examining patterns in contraceptive practice among poor and nonpoor married women in urban settings in 19 African countries. First, we analyze changes in the rich–poor gaps in modern contraceptive prevalence (mCP) in urban Africa over time. We then determine the public source of the supply of modern contraceptives to the urban poor and how that supply may have changed over a 10-year period. The findings show that, in most Eastern and Southern African countries, previous gaps in mCP between the rich and poor married women have disappeared. Countries in Central and Western Africa, however, continue to have significant gaps in mCP between rich and poor women, with urban poor women experiencing only a modest improvement in mCP over the past decade. This paper contributes to our understanding about sub-regional dynamics in reproductive health outcomes in urban settings in sub-Saharan Africa.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.