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Past research on education and unintended pregnancy has focused on establishing a negative relationship between level of educational attainment and unintended pregnancy. Although educational attainment and enrollment are known to exert unique effects on family formation behavior, relatively few studies have examined the influence of enrollment on the risk of unintended pregnancy. Using longitudinal data from a weekly mixed-mode survey of 18-21 year old women spanning 2.5 years, I explore the relationship between school enrollment and unintended pregnancy. I find that the risk of unintended pregnancy is significantly lower among women enrolled in school than among those not enrolled. Furthermore, I find evidence that the prevalence of friends attending college, expectations for work and pregnancy, and involvement in committed, time-intensive relationships mediate the relationship between school enrollment and unintended pregnancy. In addition, my findings suggest that a key reason why women enrolled in school have a lower risk of unintended pregnancy than those not enrolled is because they use contraception more consistently.
Country of focus: United States of America.