Black-White Differences in Pregnancy Desire during the Transition to Adulthood

Publication Abstract

Barber, Jennifer S., Karen B. Guzzo, Jamie Budnick, Sarah R. Hayford, Yasamin Kusunoki, and Warren B. Miller. Forthcoming. "Black-White Differences in Pregnancy Desire during the Transition to Adulthood." Demography.

This paper explores race differences in the prospective desire to avoid pregnancy or become pregnant using survey data on a random sample of 914 young women (ages 18-22) living in a Michigan county and qualitative analyses of 60 semi-structured interviews with a subsample of the women. Desire for pregnancy, indifference, and ambivalence are very rare, but are more prevalent among Black women. Qualitative analyses reveal that Black and white women do not differ with regard to whether they have specific family size and pregnancy timing desires. Compared to prospective measures of their pre-conception feelings about a potential pregnancy, pregnant Black women's retrospectively measured recollections of those pre-conception feelings were increasingly positive more frequently than pregnant white women's feelings were increasingly positive. Young women's consistent (over repeated interviews) expression of strong desire to avoid pregnancy and correspondingly weak desire for pregnancy, along with the lack of strong race differences in these desires, lead us to conclude that a "planning paradigm" - where young women are encouraged and supported in implementing their pregnancy desires - is probably appropriate for the majority of young women, and is similarly appropriate for Black and white young women.

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