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Developmental Idealism in the U.S.: Acceptance among a Sample of Young Women

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Jennifer S. Barber

The overarching question for the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study asks how prevalent unintended pregnancy is during the transition to adulthood, and why. The study begins with a baseline interview of a cohort of approximately 1,000 young women. Immediately following, each young woman enrolls in a weekly journal study for a period of 2.5 years. This weekly 5-minute online or phone interview provides dynamic measures of rapidly changing aspects of their lives, including relationships, contraceptive use, pregnancies, education, employment, and other relevant activities. Recent work by Thornton and colleagues (forthcoming) finds that large fractions of people across multiple international settings believe that fertility and development are correlated, and that fertility and development mutually affect each other, with fertility declines helping to foster development. The present project focuses on these ideas, and the extent to which they have been accepted by the RDSL respondents. We ask, if these connections between low (and delayed) fertility have been disseminated from western countries to other countries around the globe, have they also been disseminated to lower SES young women in our study area? We will expand the scope of the ongoing panel study by conducting a supplemental survey interview with study participants to collect new data to answer this question. The interview has three specific aims: (1) collect data to be used to advance our understanding of how the young women in our sample envision "success"; (2) collect preliminary data to be used in an upcoming R21 proposal intended to expand the aims of the original study; and (3) increase response rates. Our past experience with supplemental interviews is that they renew respondent interest in the main study. Thus, we expect the interview will also serve to increase response rates in the ongoing panel study.

Funding Period: 02/01/2011 to 06/30/2012

Country of Focus: USA

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