First birth intendedness among young mothers: Does it vary across interracial and same-race couples?


Smith, Shira Simone (2019). First birth intendedness among young mothers: Does it vary across interracial and same-race couples?.


The proportion of coresidential unions (i.e., cohabiting and marital unions) that include partners who differ in terms of race/ethnicity has increased substantially over recent decades. Yet, little is known about the fertility behavior of interracial couples, including birth intendedness. The current study bridges the literature on interracial couples and unintended fertility by examining how the likelihood that mothers reported their first birth as unintended, as opposed to intended, differs depending upon the racial mix of parents at the time of the birth (i.e., the race of the mother and father). I offer a significant contribution to the literature on unintended fertility with the inclusion of non-residential couples and Asian women. Data for this study are from Waves I (1994-1995) and IV (2007-2008) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), a nationally representative sample of individuals who were enrolled in grades seven through twelve during the mid-1990s. Using an analytic sample of 3,840 mothers, estimates from logistic regression models show that births to white mothers partnered with black or Hispanic men at the time of their first birth were more likely to be characterized as unintended, relative to intended, than those to white mothers partnered with white men at the time. The intendedness of births to minority women was less contingent on the race of their partners. Furthermore, estimates from these models reveal that birth intendedness differed dramatically according to the context of the relationship between parents around the time of their birth; mothers who were not romantically involved with their partner were most likely to characterize their birth as unintended, while mothers who were married were least likely to characterize their birth as such. In fact, the relationship context at the time of the birth was the primary driver of gaps in birth intendedness between white mothers partnered with minority men versus their counterparts partnered with white men. These findings hold significant implications for understanding the social distance between racial and ethnic groups, as well as the well-being of children born to mothers with various relationship characteristics.



Interracial relationships

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Smith, Shira Simone

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Joyner, Kara

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Bowling Green State University

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