Marriage structure and contraception in Niger

J Biosoc Sci. 1999 Jan;31(1):93-104. doi: 10.1017/s0021932099000930.


Analysis of the 1992 Niger Demographic and Health Survey showed that although roughly two-thirds of both polygamous and monogamous women approve of birth control, polygamous wives are less likely than monogamous wives to discuss family size or birth control with their husband or to plan on using birth control. The study suggests that characteristics of polygamous couples have caused polygamous women to be more resistant to birth control use than monogamous women. The polygamous women tended to be married to older men who had not gone to primary school and who desired more children than monogamous husbands. The influence of marital structure is not significantly associated with intention to use birth control when the husband's age and the wife's ideal number of children were controlled for in the multivariate logistic regression model suggesting that background social factors may be more influential. In fact, educational level and age at first marriage were significantly associated with attitudes towards birth control and also with marital structure.

PIP: This study examined differences in approval of birth control (BC), desired family size, partner communication, and intention to use BC by marriage type (polygyny vs. monogamy) in Niger. Data were obtained from the 1992 Demographic and Health Survey among a subset of 1740 wives aged 15-49 years and 1470 husbands. 513 wives were polygamous; 1227 were monogamous. 64% of couples lived in rural areas. 98% were Muslim. Only 4% had ever used contraception. About two-thirds of the total sample approved of BC. The reasons reported were desire for more children, lack of information on birth control, difficulty in becoming pregnant, and infertility. 21.5% planned to use in the future. 18% of women and 28% of men had attended primary school. Polygamous wives and husbands desired a larger mean number of children. Polygamous couples were significantly less likely to discuss family planning or use BC. Polygamous wives were also less likely to plan to use BC. Approval of BC was similar among monogamous and polygamous wives and husbands. 18.8% of polygamous wives and 28.8% of monogamous wives planned to use in the future. The odds of planning to use BC declined with an increase in the number desired. Plans for BC were related to partner communication about family size. Logistic models indicate that polygamous women were less likely to plan to use BC. Women whose husbands did not approve of BC had one-half the odds of planning on its use. Social factors, such as education, work outside the home, and marriage age, were more influential on attitudes toward and intention to use BC.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Family Characteristics
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Niger
  • Parity
  • Rural Population
  • Urban Population