Ignorance or Unmet Need? Identifying the Best Predictor for Changes in Total Fertility Rate

Karampreet Sachathep, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
David Bishai, Johns Hopkins University

Unmet need for family planning has been adopted as a Millennium Development Goal (MDG) indicator however, the question of its validity continues to remain and it remains to be shown whether this measure is the best predictor of changes in total fertility rates. The first aim of the paper is to display the weakness of unmet need as a predictor of fertility decline. The second aim is to develop empirical evidence for a stronger indicator to predict TFR trends. This paper explains why the need to truly determine the utility of this indicator is vital and how, from the analysis of all the available unmet need data from DHS surveys from more than 80 countries conducted over the last 20 years, unmet need falls short as a predictor of fertility trends.

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Presented in Session 214: Advances in Measures and Models of Fertility and Sexual Behavior