Original research article| Volume 85, ISSUE 6, P570-579, June 2012

Trends in contraceptive use and determinants of choice in China: 1980���2010



      In China, contraception is the most commonly used practice adopted by couples seeking to limit their number of children and to determine the time interval between births. Since 1980, the implementation of mandatory contraceptive strategy has reduced the fertility rate. Using large-scale data from national statistics and nationally representative sample surveys, the current study aims to assess Chinese trends in contraceptive use and determinants of choice from 1980 to 2010 among married women and men aged 20���49 years.

      Study Design

      Since 1980, national data on contraceptive methods utilization have been gathered by the National Population and Family Planning Commission of the People's Republic of China (NPFPC). Additionally, data from three roughly representative decennial samples (1988, 1997, 2006) of Chinese women of aged 20 to 57 years have been gathered by the NPFPC through the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Surveys in China.


      A relatively stable Chinese mode of contraception has been established and maintained since the 1980s. This is characterized by long-term contraceptive use which is still dominant in current China. In addition, China's total contraceptive prevalence rates remain at the highest level across the globe from 1980 to 2010. However, the overall method composition of contraceptive use within China has changed since the mid-1990s. Over the study period, the prevalence rate of sterilization increased from 30.21% in 1980 to 46.47% of married women of reproductive age (20���49 years) in 1994 and then declined to 31.7% in 2010. At the same time, intrauterine device usage increased (39.83% in 1980 to 48.15% in 2010), as did oral contraception (0.3% in 1980 to 0.98% in 2010) and condom usage (2.35% in 1980 to 9.32% in 2010). The results from the multinomial logit model show that an individual's contraceptive choice depends not only on individual characteristics, including ethnicity, age, education level, household registration, region, number of living children and sex of the last living child, but also on the strength of family planning policies. A positive coefficient indicates that the looser the strength of family planning policies is, the more likely the individual is to choose condoms or another short-term contraceptive method.


      Long-term contraceptive use is still dominant in China. In fact, over the 30-year period (1980���2010) and in comparative world perspective, China continues to have the highest total contraceptive prevalence rate. Additionally, an individual's contraceptive choice is jointly influenced by the strength of family planning policies and individual characteristics.


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