Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 October 2019
The positive effect of women’s empowerment on the use of contraceptives is well established. However, the reverse effect, i.e. the potential effect of use of contraceptives on women’s empowerment, is relatively unexplored. This study examined the direct impact of contraceptive use on women’s empowerment in currently married women aged 15–49 years in India using data from the National Family Health Survey-4 conducted in 2015–16. A two-stage least squares (2SLS) regression model was used to account for the issue of endogeneity that appears in a general logit model. The use of contraceptives by the sample women was found to be associated with greater women’s empowerment in terms of both their mobility and decision-making power. The pathways to greater women’s empowerment are often presumed to be factors such as changing perception of their domestic role and sense of control over their own body. While these are integral, this paper highlights how the possible control over family size and birth interval through use of contraception may also be critical pathways to increasing women’s empowerment.