Diffusion of Family Size Preferences and Acceptability of Contraceptive Use between Migrants and Non-Migrants in Rural Senegal

John Sandberg , The George Washington University
Véronique Deslauriers, Université de Montréal
Yacine Boujija, Université de Montréal
Valerie Delaunay
Laetitia Douillot, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD)
Simona Bignami, Université de Montréal

Countries across sub-Saharan Africa continue to experience slow or stalled fertility transitions, and fertility remains well above replacement across the region. Explanations for the slow pace of decline in the past have focused on contraceptive knowledge and access. Today however, the main impediments that remain are the high demand for children and objections to contraceptive use. Though many factors may drive the demand for children and contraceptive acceptability, social learning and influence mechanisms associated with diffusion of information through interpersonal interaction may be of prime importance. Prior research has identified one such mechanism, operating through diffusion from rural-urban migrants to members of their communities of origin. Using a unique source of social network data from a rural Senegalese community linked to an ongoing demographic and health surveillance system, we test in this paper for the association between exposure to migrants to the capital, Dakar in respondents’ social networks and numeric vs. non-numeric response to a question concerning ideal family size, numeric ideal family size, and contraceptive acceptability. We find evidence supportive of strong social learning and influence mechanisms operating through interaction with migrants on the individual level associated with each of these outcomes. Estimated effects were found to vary in magnitude between men and women, and with the degree of inter-connectedness of respondents’ social networks. These results suggest that programmatic efforts to encourage diffusion of information about these issues from urban residents and migrants to their social networks in rural communities of origin communities may have an important impact.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course