Journal of Biosocial Science 53 (3):407-418 (2021)

Despite persistent efforts, unmet need for contraceptives in India has declined only slightly from 14% to 13% between 2005–06 and 2015–16. Many women using a family planning method discontinue it without switching to another method and continue to have unmet need. This study quantified the share of current unmet need for modern contraceptive methods attributed to past users of these methods in India. Data were drawn from two rounds of the National Family Health Survey conducted in 2005–06 and 2015–16. Using information on women with current unmet need, and whether they used any modern method in the past, the share of past users with current unmet need for modern methods was calculated. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed. Among 46 million women with unmet need, 11 million were past users of modern methods in 2015–16. The share of current unmet need attributed to past users of modern contraceptive methods declined from 27% in 2005–06 to 24% in 2015–16. Share of current unmet need attributed to past users was associated with reversible method use. This share rose with increased use of modern reversible methods. With the Indian family planning programme’s focus on increasing modern reversible method use, the share of unmet need attributed to past users of modern methods is likely to increase in the future. The programme’s emphasis on continuation of contraceptive use, along with bringing in new users, could be one of the key strategies for India to achieve the FP2020 goals.
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DOI 10.1017/s0021932020000279
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