Using Panel Data to Examine Pregnancy Attitudes over Time

Heini E. Väisänen, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Rachel K. Jones, Guttmacher Institute

We studied two panels of data from a sample of approximately 3,000 U.S. adult women gathered six months apart. Only 4% of women were trying to get pregnant at both time points, but six percent went from trying to not or vice versa. Two-thirds reported a strong desire to avoid pregnancy at both points, but 9% transitioned from strong to not strong and an additional 7% transitioned from not strong to strong. Women who transitioned to a more serious romantic relationship were at increased risk of transitioning to trying to become pregnant and, not surprisingly, to a weaker pregnancy avoidance. Interestingly, some of the variables we tested, including changes in employment status and race/ethnicity, were associated with one but not the other outcome variable. Taking a holistic perspective of women’s lives when studying pregnancy intentions is important. Context matters and it may change rapidly.

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Presented in Session 120: Fertility Intentions: Causes and Consequences