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Document Type
Comparative Reports
Publication Topic(s)
Fertility and Fertility Preferences, Gender, Wealth/Socioeconomics
Kiersten Johnson and Yuan Gu and ICF Macro, Calverton, Maryland, USA
Publication Date
June 2009
Publication ID

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This report documents both socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of male respondents to the DHS surveys, as well as male attitudes, preferences, and behaviors relating to contraception, fertility, and health in 40 developing countries. This report shows large regional variations in the reproductive preferences and behavior of men for both ever-married men and never-married men. A key finding of this report is that in all countries, never-married men (mostly youth age 15-24) are far more likely to know about modern contraceptive methods (particularly condoms) than to engage in sexual activity. This combination of knowledge and behavior suggests that there is currently a good foundation for youth-focused family planning and sexual health programs in most countries. Another contribution of this report is its analysis of key indicators by the wealth index. While the relationship between wealth and outcomes of interest is typically in the expected direction, the tables presented here allow for a closer investigation of the gradients of inequality for each outcome. For example, the variation in knowledge of contraceptive methods among never-married men by the wealth index is minimal in Malawi but considerable in Guinea. These results are useful in identifying subpopulations that would obtain the most benefit from programmatic interventions. This report also presents comparable data on men’s attitudes about gender roles, men’s communication with their spouses about important health issues, data on men’s health-related behaviors regarding their own health, and men’s knowledge of child health issues. An analysis of men’s experience of symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) according to gender attitudes suggests that gender attitudes do matter for men’s health outcomes as well as women’s. The data show considerable variation both within and across regions in levels of couple communication about important health issues like HIV and family planning. This kind of country-specific information provides important guidance for program implementation. Similarly, data on men’s own health-related behaviors such as smoking allow policymakers to pinpoint where to target resources for interventions. The data in this report documenting the large variation in men’s knowledge of how to care for a child with diarrhea indicate that there is considerable need in some countries for the education of fathers regarding how to care for a sick child, especially where orphaning is prevalent. A trends analysis in several countries demonstrates that improvements in important social indicators, such as education, and health-related behaviors, such as engaging in higher-risk sexual activity, can and do change over time, and often for the better. Nevertheless, continued efforts are required to maintain progress towards sustainable population and health goals for men and their families.