Sex, Lives and Red Tape

Where in the developed world is contraception free?

In conducting any literature review a researcher must weigh up quality (i.e. finding relevant studies to your research question), and quantity (i.e. being swamped by the sheer volume of publications). It is a delicate balance, which has been taking me quite some time to figure out. One issue I’ve been grappling with in particular has been deciding how to limit identified studies geographically.

My PhD thesis is concerned with England. It is interested in how young people’s contraceptive needs are being met since the Health And Social Care Act (2012) came into force. As such, the aim of my literature review is to find out what factors have been shown to be effective in providing contraception to young people. An important consideration to this is ensuring that studies I include are relevant and able to answer my question, and like any good researcher I’ve got a pre-defined set of inclusion criteria.

However, I do want to include studies from as many relevant populations as possible. And therefore I ought to look beyond England. I know that Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also provide free contraception methods and services to their populations (including young people)… but what about other developed* countries?

*The needs and organisation of health care varies across all countries. In order to identify countries which are in some ways similar to England, I’m only exploring countries with a Very High Human Development Index (2013 report). This is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living and quality of life for countries worldwide, used to distinguish development.

I have stumbled across some useful looking tables published by Slate (screen shots below – link to interactive maps here)

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 16.13.46

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 16.13.29

Although this doesn’t tell me about all possible contraception methods, it does inform me about two (so its better than nothing). From this article I was able to identify and download the relevant dataset on reproductive health laws (last updated in 2008) and fill in the table below…

Where in the developed world can the contraceptive pill and condoms be freely obtained?

Country Is the pill free? Are condoms free?
Argentina Yes Yes
Australia No No
Austria No No
Belgium No No
Canada No No
Chile No No
Croatia No No
Cuba Yes Yes
Cyprus No No
Czech Republic No No
Denmark No No
Estonia No No
Finland No No
France Yes No
Germany No No
Greece No No
Hong Kong
Hungary No No
Iceland No No
Ireland No No
Israel No No
Italy Yes No
Japan No No
Latvia No No
Lithuania No No
Luxemburg Yes No
Netherlands No No
New Zealand Yes No
Norway No No
Poland Yes Yes
Portugal Yes Yes
Saudi Arabia No No
Slovakia No No
Slovenia No No
South Korea No Yes
Spain No No
Sweden No No
Switzerland No No
UK Yes Yes
USA Yes No

Although its not all the information I would like, it is a starting point. And from this useful dataset, I’ll be better informed as to whether research from specific countries may or may not be comparable.

Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing?


Finlay, Jocelyn; Canning, David; Po, June, 2012, “Replication data for: Reproductive Health Laws Around the World 1960-present”, UNF:5:Gwy3Mjtl8UwvSpY5fv+fmA== V2 [Version]


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This entry was posted on October 29, 2014 by in PhD, Sexual Health and tagged , , , .