Document Type

Working Paper

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The objective of this research is to examine the association between social organization and reproductive behavior in one setting in sub-Saharan Africa. The particular focus is on the effects of social organization on the diffusion of innovative reproductive ideas and behaviors. Social diffusion is assumed to be strongly affected by patterns of informal social interaction, and these in turn are assumed to be determined in part by the social organization of local communities (gender relations, employment activity, voluntary organizations). The research draws on data collected in six communities in southern Ghana. The analysis reveals a weaker than expected association between the social organization of the communities and key reproductive indicators (fertility preferences, age at first marriage, postpartum practices, use of modern contraception). Closer examination of the six communities suggests that the weak association is explained by the idiosyncratic histories of several of the communities, in particular their histories of health and family planning provision. Explanations for reproductive change that place social organization on center stage must be enlarged to incorporate the potentially powerful influence of community history.