Polygyny and Family Planning Programs in sub-Saharan Africa: Representation and Reality

Jamaica Corker, University of Pennsylvania
Ernestina E. Coast, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

This paper investigates the ways in which polygyny is represented by and addressed in family planning (FP) programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Though current literature reveals little consensus on the relationship between polygyny and fertility, this study argues that polygynous unions are sufficiently different from monogamous unions to warrant audience segmentation in FP programs in areas with high levels of polygyny. This paper includes research relating to polygyny and FP in sub-Saharan Africa, review of FP communication materials and secondary analyses of DHS data. By comparing results on FP perceptions, intentions and behaviors of polygynous men and women with those in monogamous marriages, we demonstrate how using conventional models of couples’ analysis (i.e. studying monogamous couples) is inappropriate for researching polygynous unions, which should therefore be specifically segmented and targeted in FP programs.

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Presented in Poster Session 3