Note: Program Officer Sarah Hertzog informed Nava Ashraf of the forthcoming initiative on Family Planning and encouraged her to apply through Character Development, since the Family Planning category does not yet exist.
High levels of fertility continue to undermine economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. While women's demand for children has decreased over the past decade, male demand has remained constant, who report higher desired fertility. This gender difference in desired fertility has a measurable effect on realized fertility and on unmet need for family planning.
This study documents a large gender information gap regarding maternal mortality in the Zambian household. Given this gap, informing men on this risk could significantly affect their support for family planning. Through a field experiment in Lusaka, this study aims at providing accurate information about maternal mortality risk to both women and men. Using an innovative design that targets information to different members of the household, this study tests whether such information affects desired fertility and contraceptive use.
By measuring the impact of this information on both beliefs and behavior, –and how this information spreads in the household– this study will inform on the role of intra-household information dissemination and communication in determining household behavior.
Male involvement is a growing trend in global health. It is critical to understand the drivers of desired fertility and to use that knowledge to overcome existing intra-household barriers. Through our relationships with the Zambian Ministries of Health and Community Development, Mother & Child Health, our workshops will help create a simple, low-cost training module for health workers to incorporate into ongoing patient care in Zambian facilities and households. The results will be relevant to other Sub-Saharan countries that exhibit high fertility rates and high unmet need for family planning.