Barriers to Fertility Regulation: A Review of the Literature

The evidence in the demographic and family planning literature of the range and diversity of the barriers to fertility regulation in many developing countries is reviewed in this article from a consumer perspective. Barriers are defined as the constraining factors standing between women and the realistic availability of the technologies and correct information they need in order to decide whether and when to have a child. The barriers include limited method choice, financial costs, the status of women, medical and legal restrictions, provider bias, and misinformation. The presence or absence of barriers to fertility regulation is likely an important determinant of the pace of fertility decline or its delay in many countries. At the same time, barriers inhibit women’s ability to avoid unintended pregnancy. Problems of quantifying barriers limit understanding of their importance. New ways to quantify them and to identify misinformation, which is often concealed in survey data, are needed for future research.

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