This study investigates the correlates of traditional contraceptive use in Moldova, a poor country in Europe with one of the highest proportions of traditional contraceptive method users. The high reliance on traditional methods, particularly in the context of sub-replacement level fertility rate, has not been systematically evaluated in demographic research. Using cross-sectional data on a sub-sample of 6039 sexually experienced women from the 2005 Moldovan Demographic and Health Survey, this study hypothesizes that (a) economic and spatial disadvantages increase the likelihood of traditional method use, and (b) high exposure to family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH) programmes increases the propensity to modern method use. Multilevel multinomial models are used to examine the correlates of traditional method use controlling for exposure to sexual activity, socioeconomic and demographic characteristics and data structure. The results show that economic disadvantage increases the probability of traditional method use, but the overall effect is small. Although higher family planning media exposure decreases the reliance on traditional methods among younger women, it has only a marginal effect in increasing modern method use among older women. Family planning programmes designed to encourage women to switch from traditional to modern methods have some success – although the effect is considerably reduced in regions outside of the capital Chisinau. The study concludes that FP/RH efforts directed towards the poorest may have limited impact, but interventions targeted at older women could reduce the burden of unwanted pregnancies and abortions. Addressing differentials in accessing modern methods could improve uptake in rural areas.
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