Changing Education Gradients in Unwanted Births in the United States

Sarah R. Hayford, Arizona State University
Karen B. Guzzo, Bowling Green State University

In the contemporary U.S., unintended fertility is more common among less educated women. Over the past fifty years, educational differences in other family behaviors, such as early childbearing, nonmarital fertility, and divorce, have increased. It is not clear whether the association of education with unintended births has also strengthened. This paper analyzes trends in education gradients in unintended births. The extended abstract describes educational differences in unwanted births between 1955 and 2000, using harmonized data from eight nationally representative fertility surveys. We show that overall education differences have remained stable, but differences in the proportion of first births reported as unwanted have increased. The completed paper will estimate competing risks event history models to assess the contribution of changes in the age, parity, and marital status distribution of births, and the race-ethnic composition of the U.S. population, to these trends. We will also incorporate data from the early twenty-first century.

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Presented in Session 183: Fertility Intentions and Influences Upon