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Open Access Research

Individual and community level socioeconomic inequalities in contraceptive use in 10 Newly Independent States: a multilevel cross-sectional analysis

Teresa Janevic1*, Pallas W Sarah2, Ismayilova Leyla3 and Bradley H Elizabeth2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, UMDNJ School of Public Health, 683 Hoes Lane West, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA

2 Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale School of Public Health, 60 College Street, New Haven, CT, 06520, USA

3 School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, 969 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA

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International Journal for Equity in Health 2012, 11:69  doi:10.1186/1475-9276-11-69

Published: 16 November 2012



Little is known regarding the association between socioeconomic factors and contraceptive use in the Newly Independent States (NIS), countries that have experienced profound changes in reproductive health services during the transition from socialism to a market economy.


Using 2005–2006 data from Demographic Health Surveys (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan), we examined associations between individual and community socioeconomic status with current modern contraceptive use (MCU) among N = 55,204 women aged 15–49 married or in a union. Individual socioeconomic status was measured using quintiles of wealth index and education level (higher than secondary school, secondary school or less). Community socioeconomic status was measured as the percentage of households in the poorest quintile of the nationals household wealth index (0%, 0–25%, or greater than 25%). We used multilevel logistic regression to estimate associations adjusted for age, number of children, urban/rural, and socioeconomic variables.


MCU varied by country from 14% (in Azerbaijan) to 62% (in Belarus). Overall, women living in the poorest communities were less likely than those in the richest to use modern contraceptives (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 0.82, 95% Confidence Interval = 0.76, 0.89). Similarly, there was an increasing odds of MCU with increasing individual-level wealth. Women with a lower level of education also had lower odds of MCU than those with a higher level of education (aOR = .75, 95%CI = 0.71, 0.79). In country-specific analyses, community-level socioeconomic inequalities were apparent in 4 of 10 countries; in contrast, inequalities by individual-level wealth were apparent in 7 countries and by education in 8 countries. All countries in which community-level socioeconomic status was associated with MCU were in Central Asia, whereas at the individual-level inequalities of the largest magnitude were found in the Caucasus. There were no distinct patterns found in Eastern European countries.


Community-level socioeconomic inequalities in MCU were most pronounced in Central Asian countries, whereas individual-level socioeconomic inequalities in MCU were most pronounced in the Caucasus. It is important to consider multilevel contextual determinants of modern contraceptive use in the development of reproductive health and family planning programs.