The unmet need for modern contraception remains high around the world, particularly for youth. While some of this unmet need is driven by limited health infrastructure and method mix availability, many adolescents who visit family planning providers still do not receive methods that fit their needs. This suggests that providers may be biased against youth and that interventions to change provider behavior could help close this gap. However, it is unclear if this bias is a result of age or other characteristics common among young women such as not being married and not having children. We use a discrete choice experiment in Burkina Faso, Pakistan, and Tanzania to disentangle the effects of age on providers’ decisions to provide contraception from the effects of other potential confounding factors. We find that, although young women may experience the most bias, age is not the main driver. Rather, marital status and parity seem to influence provider decisions to offer services or counsel on modern methods. These findings suggest that interventions to reduce provider bias should focus on changing behavior towards unmarried and nulliparous women, regardless of their age.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.