Exploring women’s reproductive histories

Publication Subtitle

A survey instrument

Publication year


Publication Author

International Center for Research on Women

Understanding what determines a woman’s reproductive choices and behaviors, particularly in terms of family planning, can inform the development of more effective programs and policies to improve their lives.

With an aim to design better measurement tools for gathering data on the determinants of women’s reproductive behaviors, ICRW and partners implemented an innovative, large-scale, household-based study in Madhya Pradesh, India. Our survey approach was found to produce higher quality and more detailed data than standard household surveys. In particular, this approach appears to reduce the under-reporting of abortion, which has been legal in India since 1972, while also collecting information that allows for a more comprehensive exploration of the ways in which different factors in women’s lives intersect to shape their reproductive behavior.

This survey instrument combines a unique narrative interviewing technique with rigorous quantitative survey methodology that allows women to report on their reproductive lives within the context of a natural storytelling process.  The questionnaire’s structure, including both the types and sequencing of questions, was deliberately designed to mimic a conversational flow, which differentiates it from traditional survey approaches. Findings from the study are published in Realizing Reproductive Rights and Choice.