Study: Social and Behavioral Responses to Natural Disasters
PI: Jocelyn Finlay
Affiliation: Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies
Funding Partner: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Geographic Location: Ghana
This research addresses the larger debate in demography about the causal relationship between contraceptive supply and the demand for smaller families and fertility decline. The study investigates the effect of increased access to legal abortion when Ghana’s criminal code was amended in 1985 on a subsequent fertility decline. Researchers used a mixed methods approach, including an analysis of the Ghana Demographic and Health Surveys (creating a panel of women ages 15-34 years) and key informant interviews. Results indicate that the timing of the change in the abortion law coincided with the onset of Ghana’s fertility decline. The study showed that the shift primarily affected women who were at least 25 years of age, which suggests that abortion was used to keep families within a desire size. However, results from key informant interviews suggested that law was not widely implemented, and that the knowledge of the legal change might have been low for some time. While the timing of the abortion law liberalization coincided with the fertility decline in Ghana, the researchers were not able to separate the effects of the change in policy from the famine that affected the region at the same time. The researchers suggest the need for further research on abortion in Ghana in order to validate the contribution of legal abortion to fertility decline.
Finlay, Jocelyn, & Fox, A. M. (2013). Reproductive health laws and fertility decline in Ghana. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 123. e24-e28.