The effect of education on fertility, contraceptive behavior, and contraceptive method choice has been extensively researched in the family planning literature. The education levels completed by husbands and wives have been shown to be salient factors in determining the use of specific contraceptive methods. One issue that has been less explored, particularly in the context of Nepal, is how relative education between husbands and wives influences their choice of certain methods.
One objective of this paper is to investigate the differential impact of the education levels of husbands and wives in Nepal on their contraceptive method choices using the Nepal Demographic and Health Surveys from 1996, 2001, and 2006. A second objective is to examine how the role of education in family planning use has changed over the past decade, given that significant changes in fertility and family planning have occurred in Nepal during this period. Multinomial logistic regression models are estimated to assess the effects of relative education and of the education gap between spouses on contraceptive method choice while controlling for key socioeconomic determinants of family planning.
The results show that although the wife’s education is one of the primary determinants of the type of method chosen by the couple, the husband’s education has more influence on the selection of male methods. Furthermore, the effects of wives’ and husbands’ education differ by their relative education and by their education gap. Finally, differences in the use of any method of family planning by education level have narrowed considerably in the past decade, although differentials remain in the use of some methods.
These findings highlight the importance of focusing on couples and involving men in family planning efforts because husbands do seem to play a role in choosing family planning methods, especially in the choice of male methods.