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Family planning across generations in China: are choices still orthodox and restricted?

7th November 2013 3pm, University of Southampton 58/2097

Sabu Padmadas, University of Southampton

Chinese family planning programme has been unprecedented in scale and population impact. The programme which spanned over four different phases since the 1970s from a late, long and few era to a tightened and restricted policy to an informed choices era had enormous impact on an entire generation. The first three phases focused almost exclusively on the promotion of long-term and irreversible methods and thereafter a gradual shift was noted in the spread of contraceptive choices. There is, however, little systematic analysis of the choices that couples had as they entered reproductive life, over time and across different periods of family planning programmes, particularly in the context of rapid urbanisation and social transformation. The cohort analysis of the first method use provides a historical insight of the extent of family planning programme impact, the opportunities and the shifts in choices that couples experienced over the four distinct phases of the programme. The cohort analysis based on data from the 2006 National Population and Family Planning Survey considered 33,257 women married at different points in time during which the country witnessed historical changes in the structure and delivery of family planning programmes. The findings show clear shift in contraceptive choices towards short-term methods among recent cohorts. Long-term methods still dominate method mix in China but there is little evidence to prove that choices are orthodox and restricted.