Contraceptive Dynamics among the Mayan Population of Guatemala: 1978-1998

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Author(s): Bertrand J T, Seiber E, Escudero G

Year: 2000

Guatemala lags far behind its neighboring countries in Central America in contraceptive prevalence. This paper traces the marked differences in family planning between the two main ethnic groups--the Mayans and ladinos--over a 20-year period, based on four national level surveys. Whereas prevalence (all methods) among ladinos increased from 27 percent in 1978 to 50 percent in 1998, the level among Mayans increased from 4 to only 13 percent. Female sterilization, the pill and rhythm have been the most widely used methods, although as of 1998 Depoprovera replaced the pill as the third most popular method among Mayans. The source of methods has shifted over time, but Mayans and ladinos have used similar sources at each survey. Three separate multivariate analyses were used to test the determinants of contraceptive use: among all women of reproductive age over this 20-year period, among Mayan women only in 1995/96 (to examine inter-group differences), and among all women in four departamentos in which it was possible to incorporate access to services in the model. The dramatic changes in socio-economic conditions among both ladinos and Mayans over these 20 years were key determinants of contraceptive use, although as of 1998 there was evidence of other factors as well (conceivably the effect of the program). After controlling for socio-demographic factors, access to services emerged as a significant correlate of contraceptive use among Mayans. The authors discuss the programmatic implications of these findings.

Filed under: Guatemala