Fertility Following an Unintended First Birth

Karen B. Guzzo, Kutztown University
Sarah R. Hayford, Arizona State University
Elizabeth Wildsmith, University of Pennsylvania

Research on unintended fertility tends to focus on single births. This article expands previous research by examining the relationship between early unintended childbearing and subsequent fertility dynamics. Data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth show that 32.5% of mothers report an unintended first birth. We use event history methods to show that these women are significantly more likely than women with an intended first birth to have an unintended second birth than to either have no second birth or an intended second birth, net of socio-demographic characteristics. (Future analyses will explore more sophisticated methods for accounting for selection into unintended fertility.) An unintended first birth also increases the risk of having an unintended third birth relative to no birth or an intended birth, independent of the intendedness of the second birth. We conclude that early unintended fertility is a strong signal of high risk for subsequent unintended fertility.

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Presented in Session 127: Social Demographic Aspects of Fertility in the Western World