Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



This paper tries to promote a more complete understanding of social change by analyzing spatial patterns of contraceptive use in Bangladesh and the contiguous state of West Bengal in India. The paper takes it’s cue from earlier analysis which found strong evidence of higher contraceptive prevalence in districts of Bangladesh that border Bengali speaking districts on India, as well as from analysis of fertility decline in historical Europe where language played a critical role. Using multilevel analysis to control for variations in individual and household level correlates, mapping districts that deviate considerably from their regional averages, the analysis highlights an important role for cross border influences only in districts that share the same language across the border. Both in Bangladesh and in West Bengal, the districts that are positive outliers in contraception hug the Bangladesh- West Bengal border. Maps of outliers show that the positive outliers show a complete disregard for international borders and form a contiguous band in a manner suggestive of a role for contagion in explaining the levels of contraceptive use.