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The Association of Television and Radio with Reproductive Behavior

February 13, 2012 • Family Planning, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Bill Ryerson for sending me this research paper authored by Charles F. Westoff and Dawn A. Koffman. I have pasted the text of the first several pages below. If you are interested, you can download the full .pdf here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AOXRSoLRbnrZZw78frbPltRD398spBGBjPTDjEWZGRU/edit

The Association of Television and Radio with Reproductive Behavior

Exposure to television in developing countries has increased rapidly in recent decades. In Asia, one estimate in 2003 indicated a six-fold increase to 650 million television sets since the 1980s (Thomas 2003). In China alone, the number of people with access to satellite cable TV increased from 270,000 in 1991 to 14 million by 2005 (Jensen and Oster 2009).

Data collected in the Demographic and Health Surveys show steady increases in television exposure over the past two decades. In light of this development, it is timely to revisit earlier studies of the association of mass media exposure with reproductive behavior. One study in Africa (Westoff and Bankole 1997) concluded that exposure to radio, television, and print media was “significantly and often strongly associated with reproductive behavior even with all of the many controls imposed.” Similar results were reported two years later for Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan (Westoff and Bankole 1999).

A more recent study in India concluded that the introduction of cable television lowered fertility. The authors noted in this connection that “television may affect fertility by providing information on family planning services or changing the value of women’s time” or that “television exposes rural households to urban lifestyles, values and behaviors that are radically different than their own” (Jensen and Oster 2009). Another recent study in South Korea concluded that “the perceived prevalence of having fewer children in married life was significantly affected by exposure to dramas which positively feature single life and having fewer children in married life on television” (Jin and Jeong 2010).


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