MPIDR Working Paper

Women’s status and reproductive preferences in Eritrea

Woldemicael, G.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2007-023, 26 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (June 2007)
Open Access


The importance of women’s decision-making autonomy has recently emerged as a key factor in influencing reproductive preferences and demand for family planning in developing countries. In this study, the effect of direct indicators of women’s decision-making autonomy on fertility preferences and ever-use of modern contraception is examined using logistic regression models with and without proxy indicators. The results provide evidence that different dimensions of women’s autonomy influence the outcome variables differently in terms of magnitude and statistical significance. Particularly, women’s final say in decisions regarding day-to-day household purchases and spousal communication about family planning are influential predictors of fertility preferences and ever-use of modern family planning methods. At the same time, results show that the effects of women’s education on fertility preferences are not always significant although it has significant roles in affecting women’s decision-making autonomy. Women’s household economic situation has always significant effects on women’s autonomy as well as on fertility preferences and ever use of contraception. Thus, a complete explanation of the relationship between women’s autonomy and reproductive preferences must recognize the effects of both proxy and direct indicators of women’s autonomy. Interventions are needed to improve women’s decision-making autonomy and strengthen their negotiating capacity for family planning use if an increased desire to limit fertility is to be attained.
Keywords: Eritrea, family planning, fertility, women's status
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.