Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Biol Sci. 2015 May 22;282(1807):20150398. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0398.

Social network- and community-level influences on contraceptive use: evidence from rural Poland.

Author information

Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, Toulouse School of Economics, 21 allee de Brienne, Toulouse 31015, France Department of Anthropology, University College London, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW, UK
Department of Anthropology, University College London, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW, UK.


The diffusion of 'modern' contraceptives-as a proxy for the spread of low-fertility norms-has long interested researchers wishing to understand global fertility decline. A fundamental question is how local cultural norms and other people's behaviour influence the probability of contraceptive use, independent of women's socioeconomic and life-history characteristics. However, few studies have combined data at individual, social network and community levels to simultaneously capture multiple levels of influence. Fewer still have tested if the same predictors matter for different contraceptive types. Here, we use new data from 22 high-fertility communities in Poland to compare predictors of the use of (i) any contraceptives-a proxy for the decision to control fertility-with those of (ii) 'artificial' contraceptives-a subset of more culturally taboo methods. We find that the contraceptive behaviour of friends and family is more influential than are women's own characteristics and that community level characteristics additionally influence contraceptive use. Highly educated neighbours accelerate women's contraceptive use overall, but not their artificial method use. Highly religious neighbours slow women's artificial method use, but not their contraceptive use overall. Our results highlight different dimensions of sociocultural influence on contraceptive diffusion and suggest that these may be more influential than are individual characteristics. A comparative multilevel framework is needed to understand these dynamics.


community effects; contraception; cultural evolution; fertility decline; social networks; social transmission

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center