Exploring the Interaction of Social Networks and Mass Media for Increased Adoption of Family Planning
Mass media campaigns for family planning aim to increase contraception prevalence and promote smaller families by improving awareness and initiating social and behavior change. In areas with high fertility rates, the decision to adopt family planning is beset with uncertainty arising from compliance with social norms and a lack of awareness regarding contraception. While information regarding family planning can be gained formally through mass media, individuals also turn to interpersonal interactions to better understand social expectations and the experiences with contraceptive use of those around them. This thesis explores how the content and structure of these social networks mediate the relation between mass media exposure and family planning adoption, using data from the 1994 wave of the Kenya Diffusion and Ideational Change project. A series of binary probit regressions show that only using conventional controls and failing to account for network effects biases estimates. Further, for those with exposure to mass media, having a family planning network is associated with an increased probability of adopting family planning and for those with dense networks, mass media is beneficial as an additional source of information. Notwithstanding limitations to the analysis, the results imply that mass media campaigns designed to leverage social networks could increase uptake of contraception as the two information sources work to reinforce each other.
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