Karra Publishes Policy Briefs on Family Planning in Malawi

Mahesh Karra, Assistant Professor of Global Development Policy at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University and Associate Director of the Human Capital Initiative at the Global Development Policy Center (GDP Center), published two GDP Center policy briefs on family planning services and women’s contraceptive preferences in Malawi.

In the first policy brief, titled “Understanding Women’s Preferences For and Use of Family Planning in Urban Malawi,” Karra and co-author Kexin Zhang evaluate how user-centered counseling approaches to family planning affect women’s preferences for contraceptive methods and how these preferences were realized over time. Based on these findings, Karra and Zhang draw several lessons to inform future policies, programs, and interventions aimed at improving family planning and reproductive health services for women in Malawi and elsewhere. The full brief can be read on the GDP Center’s website.

The second brief, titled “Increased Access to Postpartum Family Planning Services Encourages Modern Contraceptive Use and Healthy Birth Spacing,” explores how postpartum family planning impacts women’s contraceptive use, fertility choices, and birth spacing. Karra and four coauthors analyze the results of a randomized controlled trial that provided new and expecting mothers in Lilongwe, Malawi with access to a range of postpartum family planning services between September 2016 and February 2019. Drawing on the trial results, the authors found that improving access to high-quality postpartum family planning services would enable women and couples to more effectively time and space their next births, and the effective provision of postpartum family planning and maternal health services face multiple barriers. The full brief can be read on the GDP Center’s website.

Mahesh Karra’s academic and research interests are broadly in development economics, health economics, quantitative methods, and applied demography. His research utilizes experimental and non-experimental methods to investigate the relationships between population, health, and economic development in low- and middle-income countries. Read more about Professor Karra on his faculty profile.