Age and Relationship Status-Specific Trends in Unwanted Fertility in the United States, 1995-2002

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

Levels of unwanted fertility in the United States are high and growing - more than 10% of births between 1997 and 2001 were unwanted, a 40% increase from 1990-94, according to the NSFG. Unwanted fertility is a policy concern due to the negative outcomes of unintended births for both mothers and children. This analysis documents recent increases in unwanted fertility and assesses the contribution of compositional changes to these trends. We use demographic decomposition techniques to decompose increases in the proportion of births that are unwanted into changes in age- and relationship status-specific wanted and unwanted birth rates and changes in the distribution of women by age and relationship status. Results show that rates of unwanted births have increased for all groups, and that the increase in unwanted births is due to this widespread growth and not to expansion of non-marital fertility or changes in the age profile of fertility.

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Presented in Session 100: Fertility Regulation Through The Life Course