Context or empowerment: determinants of women’s reproductive health and health-seeking behaviour in India

Sangeeta Parashar, University of Maryland

Reproductive health, rather than being a biological process, is deeply influenced by social, economic, and cultural conditions that affect individuals at several levels. This paper is a multilevel analysis of the determinants of women’s reproductive health-/seeking behaviour such as self-reported absence of STIs, type of contraceptive used, and adverse pregnancy outcomes in India. Data from the NFHS-2 is utilized. I hypothesize that: 1) Community-level variables such as access to health care and development are positively related to absence of STIs, higher contraceptive use, and lower number of stillbirths among women residing in that community. 2) The relationship persists above and beyond the women's own empowerment. 3) However, contextual effects do not negate the effect of a woman's empowerment on her reproductive health-seeking behaviour. The importance of women's agency highlights the distinction between determinants of reproductive health and reproductive health-seeking behaviour.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 30: Reproductive health (1)