The Effect of Contraceptive Knowledge on Fertility: The Roles of Mass Media and Social Networks

Kai-Wen Cheng, Cornell University

This study explores the effect of contraceptive knowledge on fertility using an instrumental variables approach. It draws upon the “Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice of Contraception in Taiwan” data set and focuses on the period when Taiwanese family planning programs were in effect. This study differs from previous studies examining the effectiveness of family planning programs on fertility by focusing on individuals’ obtained contraceptive knowledge and fertility behaviors. The results indicate that mass media and social networks play important roles in disseminating contraceptive knowledge. Women who are regularly exposed to mass media, or who have a wider social network, have more knowledge about contraceptives than their counterparts. This study finds that women transform their knowledge into behavior; that is, contraceptive knowledge reduces fertility, no matter which fertility metric is measured (lifetime fertility or probability of giving birth).

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Presented in Session 31: Contraceptive Use in Asia