, 48:749 | Cite as

Microcredit, Family Planning Programs, and Contraceptive Behavior: Evidence From a Field Experiment in Ethiopia

  • Jaikishan DesaiEmail author
  • Alessandro Tarozzi


The impact of community-based family planning programs and access to credit on contraceptive use, fertility, and family size preferences has not been established conclusively in the literature. We provide additional evidence on the possible effect of such programs by describing the results of a randomized field experiment whose main purpose was to increase the use of contraceptive methods in rural areas of Ethiopia. In the experiment, administrative areas were randomly allocated to one of three intervention groups or to a fourth control group. In the first intervention group, both credit and family planning services were provided and the credit officers also provided information on family planning. Only credit or family planning services, but not both, were provided in the other two intervention groups, while areas in the control group received neither type of service. Using pre- and post-intervention surveys, we find that neither type of program, combined or in isolation, led to an increase in contraceptive use that is significantly greater than that observed in the control group. We conjecture that the lack of impact has much to do with the mismatch between women’s preferred contraceptive method (injectibles) and the contraceptives provided by community-based agents (pills and condoms).


Family planning Microcredit Randomized controlled trial Community health workers Ethiopia 



Jaikishan Desai was employed by Family Health International during the course of this study. We thank the David and Lucile Packard Foundation for financial support and encouragement for the study, the Packard Foundation in Ethiopia for assistance with coordinating all aspects of the study, Birhan Research and Development Consultancy and Miz Hasab Research Center for conducting the two household surveys, and the four subgrantee organizations―ACSI, ADA, OCSSCO, and ODA―who, despite several pressures, extended their cooperation in implementing their interventions according to the study design. Last but not least, we are grateful to Laura Chioda, Jed Friedman, Jonathan Robinson, seminar participants at the World Bank and NEUDC (Boston), the Editor, and especially two anonymous referees for valuable comments and suggestions. The authors remain solely responsible for all remaining errors and omissions as well as for all the views and interpretations expressed throughout the paper.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Services Research Centre, School of GovernmentVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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