Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



The main objectives of this study are to review existing methodologies for projecting future trends in contraception, evaluate the validity of the assumptions underlying these projections, propose methodological improvements, and assess the prospects for new methods of contraception in the coming decade. The prevalence of contraception in the developing world has increased dramatically over the past several decades from near zero to around 60 percent in 2000. Demand for contraception can be expected to continue to rise rapidly for the next few decades as population size continues to grow and fertility declines further to near the replacement level. As a result of these trends the number of users of contraception in the developing world is expected to rise from 549 to 816 million over the next 25 years according to the most recent UN projection. An examination of the projection methodology found it to be reasonable. The rate of growth in users will be much more rapid in Africa than in Asia or Latin America. Projecting the future distribution of specific contraceptive methods is more difficult.Method choice is affected by trends in several factors, including access to different methods, user characteristics and technology. The procedures employed by the Futures group to project the method mix were found to be less than optimally designed and a new methodology was therefore proposed. The general approach is one of slow and incomplete convergence towards a more balanced method mix in each country, with uniform reductions in the role of traditional methods. The new alternative projections to 2015 are quite different from those made by the Futures Group. For example for the developing world as a whole the proportions relying on female sterilization are higher in 2015 (37 rather than 26 percent), and proportions using traditional methods lower (7 instead of 14 percent).