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International Relations

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In research on fertility in developing countries, it is often assumed that lack of access to a method of affordable contraception is a significant determinant of high levels of fertility. As a result of this lack of access, actual family size exceeds desired family size. This study examines the relationship between fertility and contraception access in Bududa, an impoverished district in Uganda, which is experiencing rapid population growth. Quantitative data is combined with a series of intervals of women of childbearing age. The unexpected result is that while contraceptive use is widespread among the women in Bududa, they commonly use contraception not to reduce family size but rather to achieve optimal spacing of children in their large families. In other words, actual family size roughly equals desired family size, access to contraception primarily influences birth spacing. Instead of access to contraception, cultural and economic characteristics such as female education and compensation appear to more important determinants of fertility in Bududa, Uganda.