Wanted and Unwanted Births in the United States: Trends, Measurement, and Implications

Joyce C. Abma, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), CDC
William D. Mosher, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), CDC
Jo Jones, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), CDC

Given the continuing high prevalence of unintended births and associated negative maternal and child consequences, it is important to further our understanding of what this means, and why the rate is so high in the U.S. This analysis uses the 1982, 1988, 1995, and 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) to examine three main areas: First, trends over the past 20 years are examined, including breakdowns by subgroup and marital status at birth, using the traditional 3-category attitude classification measure that includes wanted, unwanted, and mistimed. Second, the traditional measure is contrasted with newer measures of wantedness that capture ambivalence, intent, desires, partner effects, and other dimensions of wantedness known to be important. Third, we examine the prevalence and correlates of nonuse of contraception despite risk for unintended pregnancy, and reasons for nonuse of contraception when unwanted and mistimed pregnancies occur.

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Presented in Poster Session 1