Variations in Unemployment and Pregnancy Intention and Resolution: An Exploration of Economic Uncertainty and Fertility Decision-Making

Deborah Karasek, University of California, Berkeley

Understanding how economic uncertainty affects fertility intention and decision-making may bring insight into the determinants of unintended pregnancy. Using self-reported data on 18,901 pregnancies from 1990 to 2010 from the NSFG and monthly national unemployment data from the NBLS, I constructed multivariate generalized estimating equation (GEE) models to estimate the effect of unemployment on unintended, mistimed and unwanted compared to wanted pregnancies, and abortion and miscarriage compared to birth. Results indicate that unemployment rates are positively associated with the odds of a pregnancy being reported as mistimed versus wanted (OR=1.05, [1.01, 1.09]), of abortion versus birth (OR=1.10, [1.05, 1.17]) and miscarriage versus birth (OR=1.10, [1.05, 1.16]). This result supports the hypothesis that economic uncertainty, as modeled through the unemployment rate, impacts fertility intention through changes in desired timing of pregnancy. These models also indicate that women are more likely to terminate a pregnancy in a time of greater economic risk.

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Presented in Poster Session 6