Family planning practices
Examining the link between contraceptives and child health
Keywords:Child health, Malnutrition, Contraception, Family Planning, Instrumental Variable, Media, India
We use nationally representative data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) on women and their children aged below 5 years to evaluate the causal impact of contraceptive use on child health outcomes. Using exogenous variation in the district average of women’s exposure to family planning information through media as an instrument, we estimate that the use of contraception leads to a 1.3 SD (0.46 SD) increase in a child’s heightfor-age (weight-for-age) z-scores respectively. We also note that contraceptive use reduces the likelihood of a child being stunted by 15.2 pp and underweight by 11.8 pp respectively. Moreover, we find that contraceptive use leads to a decline in household size and an increase in household size depletes children’s nutritional statuses, thus providing support to the well-documented resource-dilution hypothesis as a potential mechanism through which our findings perpetrate for India. We document sizeable benefits in terms of child health of exposure to family planning apart from population stabilization targets of a country and suggest a greater focus on the access to (and use of) contraceptive measures from a policy perspective.