Unwanted Fertility in the Philippines: Re-Measurement to Establish Level, Trends, Differentials and Determinants

by Tomomichi Yamada, Master of Arts in Demography (2002)

The 1988 and 1993 National Demographic Surveys (NDSs) and 998 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) were used to re-measure the levels and trends of unwanted fertility in the Philippines. The 1998 NDHS and 1996 Family Planning Reproductive Health (FP-RH) Baseline Survey were used to examine the differentials and determinants of unwanted child-bearing among currently marries women wanting n more children at survey date. The NDSs and NDHS are nationwide surveys while the 1996 FP-RH Baseline Survey covered only 17 deprived provinces. The re-measurement of the levels and trends of unwanted and wanted fertility is based on period parity progression ratios which consider the rationalization bias in reporting unwanted children as wanted.

In the differential and determinant analyses, unwanted childbearing is the dependent variable operationalized as to whether the respondent’s last child born in the last three years before survey date was unwanted or wanted and no birth. The independent variables examined include maternal age; duration of marriage; the number of living children; region; urban/rural residence; maternal education; household income (1996 FP-RH Baseline Survey only); amenity and possession index (1998 NDHS only); religion; family type; spousal age difference; educational difference; earning responsibility (1996 FP-RH Baseline Survey only); household decision-making (1996 FP-RH Baseline Survey only); family planning approval (1998 NDHS only); decision of contraceptive use (1996 FP-RH Baseline Survey only); family size preference (1998 NDHS only); decision of family size (1996 FP-RH Baseline Survey only); physical abuse (1996 FP-RH Baseline Survey only);knowledge of ovulary cycle (1998 NDHS only);family planning knowledge; family planning experience; modern method experience; male or couple method experience; and knowledge of method sources.

Major findings from the study are as follows:
  • Unwanted fertility rate is 1.9 children per woman and the prevalence of unwanted fertility is 43 percent. It is much higher that the published commonly cited unwanted fertility rate estimate based on age-specific births of 1.0 child per woman and the 27 percent proportion of unwanted fertility because of the robustness of the technique based on period parity progression rates in eliminating respondents’ rationalization of their unwanted childbearing.
  • Rural mother have high wanted marital fertility (2.79 children per woman) and high unwanted marital fertility (2.37 children per woman) compared with urban mothers (WMFR is 2.46 children per woman and UMFR is 1.52 children per woman). The proportion of unwanted fertility to total marital fertility in rural areas is 46 percent, which is higher than the corresponding urban proportion of 38 percent.
  • The trends of unwanted fertility in three-survey period from 1988-1998 are in accordance with Bongaarts’ model of an inverted U-shape pattern. The unwanted marital fertility increased from 2.22 children per woman based on the 1988 NDS to 2.52 children per woman based on the 1993 NDS and then declined to 1.98 children per woman based on the 1998 NDHS.
  • The final logistic regression model based on the 1998 NDHS revealed these women to be: (1) the youngest (15-29 years old); (2) married the shortest period (0-9 year); (3) with the number of living children greater than two children – the strongest determinant of having recent unwanted child-bearing; (4) residents in other regions except Central and Northern Luzon; (5) urban dwellers; (6) with low socioeconomic status; (7) with husbands preferring larger family size; (8) never user or user of just one of family planning methods and (9) ever user of a male or couple method.
  • From the 1996 FP-RH Baseline Survey these women wanting no more children at survey date who tend to have had recent unwanted birth after controlling the confounding effects of other important variables are also: (1) young women aged 15-29 years old; (2) multiparous women exceeding two children ; (3) residents of Southern Luzon and Visayas; (4) with college education; (5) with low income; (6) those having the same age or older than their husbands; (7) wives having the sole responsibility to earn income; (8) those with husbands as the main decision-maker in terms of family-size; and 99) those who know seven or more sources of family planning methods.

On the whole, the study has re-measured unwanted fertility and identified the particular sub-groups of the population needing special attention by population program planners and implementers.