Contraceptive Use, Access, and Material Hardship in the Transition to Adulthood

Elly Field , University of Michigan

Decades of research have examined the paradox of high unintended pregnancy rates and increasing access and efficacy of contraception. Much of this research has focused on the socioeconomic disparities of unintended pregnancy, finding that disadvantaged women tend to use contraception less effectively. I build upon this research to examine how material hardship is associated with less consistent contraceptive use. Using the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life study, I find lower levels of contraceptive use and less consistent use of contraception among women experiencing material hardship. I also investigate the extent to which this association is explained by access issues, cognitive burden, and lower behavioral control among women experiencing hardship. I find that these mediators do significantly explain the relationship between hardship and contraception, suggesting hardship creates mental and resource constraints that impede effective implementation of contraceptive plans. However, net of these mediators, hardship remains associated with less effective contraceptive use.

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 Presented in Session 2. Children & Youth