Measurement of Unintended Pregnancy in Rural Bangladesh

Rebecca Callahan, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Estimates of unintended childbearing often rely on women’s retrospective reports of pregnancy intention, which are widely thought to be unreliable given women’s reluctance to report a pregnancy as unwanted after the child is born. This study takes advantage of a longitudinal study in rural Bangladesh that collected women’s prospective and retrospective reports of pregnancy intentions. Estimates of the unintended pregnancy rate are calculated using both forward and backward measures and correlates of switching intention status from wanted prospectively to unwanted retrospectively are explored. The unwanted pregnancy rate in this population is 42 percent measured prospectively and 20 percent measured retrospectively. More than 60 percent of women who said they wanted no more children in 2006 reported births during the three-year inter-survey period as either wanted or mistimed. Measures of pregnancy intention should be refined to more accurately measure family planning program performance and better understand the risks of unintended pregnancy.

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Presented in Session 97: Measurement of Unintended Fertility