By Miriam L. King
IPUMS DHS has released data for a new unit of analysis, woman-months, based on retrospective calendar data offering a month-to-month history of a woman’s reproductive events during the preceding five years.
The calendar data document for every month whether a woman gave birth, was pregnant, or terminated a pregnancy. For most samples, the monthly record also indicates whether the woman used a (specified) contraceptive method and her the reason for stopping use of the method. Some samples also collect information on the woman’s union status, employment, and the type of pregnancy termination.
Examples of questions one can address using data on woman-months include:
- How does the length of contraceptive use vary across methods?
- How do the reasons for stopping contraceptive use vary across methods?
- Do women who switch from one method to another switch immediately or after a time lag?
- What proportion of live births are delivered after a pregnancy lasting less than nine months?
- How many months into a pregnancy does abortion or miscarriage occur?
- What proportion of pregnancies end in termination rather than a live birth?
When you select woman-months as your unit of analysis, you can add to your customized data file variables describing the characteristics of the woman and her household at the time of interview. Thus, for example, you can analyze the above questions while studying variation by women’s educational attainment or household wealth quintile. And because woman-month data are currently available for 34 countries and 102 samples, you can also study variation across countries or change over time.
For more information about the calendar data in IPUMS DHS, including discussion of how the original string data were transformed and a summary of the calendar variables, consult the IPUMS DHS Calendar Data User Guide.