Author(s): Duze MC, Mohammed IZ
This paper examines the linkages between socioeconomic characteristics, attitudes, and familial contraceptive use. Past family planning programs in Nigeria have been mainly directed toward women. However, because northern Nigeria (and to a slightly lesser extent all of Nigeria) remains a patrilineal society characterised by early age at marriage for women, men at present continue to determine familial fertility and contraceptive decisions. Consequently, at least for the time period relevant for current policy planning purposes, the willingness of husbands to adopt or allow their spouses to use family planning practices will determine the pace of fertility reduction in Nigeria. The results suggest that there is high knowledge of contraceptives, a generally negative attitude towards limiting family size for economic reasons, and consequently low rates of contraceptive use. Respondents who were willing to use contraceptives were more willing to use them for child spacing purposes than explicitly for limiting family size. Path-analytic decompositions of the effects of predictor variables show that education has the largest direct and total effects on contraceptive use while specific knowledge of contraceptives has the smallest direct and total effect (as well as a paradoxical negative direct effect when education is included in the model). Most importantly, attitudes have the largest direct effect on contraceptive use with a standardized coefficient value of 781. Thus, since knowledge of contraceptive is already high among even those respondents who do not use contraceptives, the attitudes of males are especially important for decisions about contraceptive use. As a result, family planning programs that continue to focus solely on women will continue to achieve only limited successes in northern Nigeria (and likely in the many patrilineal societies where similar programs are pursued).