Factors associated with unmet fertility desire and perceptions of ideal family size among women in Bangladesh: insights from a nationwide Demographic and Health Survey

Raisul Akram, Abdur Razzaque Sarker, Nurnabi Sheikh, Nausad Ali, MGN Mozumder, Marufa Sultana

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Introduction Along with the developing world, Bangladesh has made a tremendous improvement in declining total fertility rate, however, this declining trend is not uniform to all the socio-demographic stratum. Incongruities exist between the numbers of children that women bearing and what they actually desired which refers to unmet fertility desire. This study aims to elicit women’s perception of ideal number of children and predictors of unmet fertility desire in Bangladesh. Method This study analyzed nationally representative cross-sectional Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2014 data. A two-stage stratified random sampling technique was used while a total of 17,863 ever-married women were interviewed between June and November 2014. A total of 10,912 eligible women were included in the analysis. Poisson regression analysis and logistic regression models were used to measure women’s perception of the ideal number of children and to determine the influencing factors of unmet fertility desires. Result The mean value of the perceived ideal number of children was 2.22 (SD ± 0.73) and the majority of women (71.2%) expect to have two children in their lifetime. Approximately 46% of mothers reported bearing more children than they desired. The perceived ideal number of children was significantly higher among women who were living in rural areas, from Sylhet division, Muslim, unemployed, and experienced child death and those who justified beating. Findings revealed that several factors such as place of residence, geographic location, religion, wealth index, maternal age and education, partners’ education, experiencing child death, and other empowerment-related indicators were significantly associated with unmet fertility desires. Conclusion Perceived ideal number of children differs among women’s socioeconomic and demographic strata. Unmet fertility desire was also found which indicates that reproductive knowledge and health care services are still necessary for some socio-demographically disadvantaged/vulnerable people and this group should be regularly monitored to control population growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0233634
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2020


  • Bangladesh
  • fertility rate
  • family size

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