Equity Analysis: Identifying Who Benefits from Family Planning Programs



This study examines current disparities in access to family planning services in developing countries with data drawn from 64 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 1994 and 2008. The percent of demand satisfied is used as a proxy measure for access to family planning. In all regions, married women aged 15–19 have greater difficulty than older women in meeting their need for contraceptive services. Inequities in the percent of demand satisfied among individuals of varying economic status, area of residence, and education are observed in all regions except Central Asia. These gaps are larger and more common in sub-Saharan Africa. Strategies that seek to increase contraceptive use rapidly without consideration for disadvantaged groups are likely to increase observed inequities in percent of demand satisfied in the short term. Efforts to monitor progress toward the goals enumerated in 1994 at the International Conference on Population and Development and toward other development goals must go beyond global, regional, and national averages to address the needs of population groups that are at greatest risk of adverse health outcomes.