Christoph Bühler, Hans-Peter Kohler
May 19, 2016
The persistent decline of fertility in Kenya has been attributed to increasing modernization and urbanization as well as to the increased use of modern family planning methods. The growing acceptance of modern contraceptives in Kenya is the result of a diffusion process. Informal communication networks are a key factor in this process because as part of day-to-day interaction and communication participants, who already use modern contraception influence others to use these methods. This influence depends - among other things - on the extent to which users of modern contraceptives and potential users of these methods are connected by strong ties. In particular, such ties are relevant for social influence because they create structures of normative expectations and constitute sources of reliable information. This paper is based on data from 740 women participating in the Kenyan Diffusion and Ideational Change Project, and our analyses support the role of strong ties for women’s decisions to employ modern contraceptives. In particular, the empirical results show significant associations between a woman’s probability of using modern contraception and strong ties to users and non-users in her social network. Moreover, our analyses also reveal the particular relevance of the social relationships associated with strong ties. For instance, strong ties to friends or members of the parental family exert a greater influence on contraceptive decisions than strong ties to persons in the immediate household.