Unmet Need for Family Planning: Recent Trends and Their Implications for Programs

Product: Report

Author: PRB

Date: February 28, 2003

(March 2003) More than 100 million women in less developed countries, or about 17 percent of all married women, would prefer to avoid a pregnancy but are not using any form of family planning. Demographers and health specialists refer to these women as having an “unmet need” for family planning—a concept that has influenced the development of family planning programs for more than 20 years. Over the past decade, rising rates of contraceptive use have reduced unmet need for family planning in most countries. In some countries, however, unmet need remains persistently high (more than one-fifth of married women) or is increasing, indicating that greater efforts are needed to understand and address the causes of unmet need.