New Estimates of U.S. Unintended Pregnancy: Taking Timing into Account

Lawrence B. Finer, Guttmacher Institute
Laura Lindberg, Guttmacher Institute
Cecily Stokes-Prindle, Guttmacher Institute

One common criticism of the traditional measure of pregnancy intention is that it provides only general information about relative timing — whether or not the pregnancy occurred too soon —without distinguishing the specific amount of mistiming. A pregnancy that is too soon by a few months may not be unintended in the same way as a pregnancy that occurred five years too soon. We draw on previous work arguing that the most important dividing line is two years. We create a revised four-category measure of pregnancy intendedness: intended, mistimed by less than two years, mistimed by two or more years, and unwanted. In this paper, we use a range of government and specialized data sources to estimate unintended pregnancy rates in these four categories for 2001. We stratify our estimates by age and union status, allowing us to consider the role of the life course factors in determining pregnancy intentions.

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Presented in Session 100: Fertility Regulation Through The Life Course