Unintended Childbearing and Marital Instability: An Emphasis on Couples’ Intentions

J. Bart Stykes , Sam Houston State University
Karen B. Guzzo, Bowling Green State University

Drawing on the 2006-2015 cycles of the pregnancy data files of the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), we consider a couple-level indicator of unintended childbearing among women having a marital first birth (n = 3,756). Analyses make use of mothers’ proxy reports of fathers’ intentions to highlight variation in mothers’ sociodemographic characteristics according to couples’ intentions among mothers who were married at the time of their first birth. Then, discrete-time event history models (n = 351,890 person-months), consider the association between couples’ intentions and marital instability. Preliminary findings suggest that consideration of couples’ intentions improves our understanding of unintended childbearing and marital stability. Specifically, mothers belonging to a couple where only the father or neither parent intended the birth experience an increased odds of experiencing marital dissolution, suggesting disagreement in intentions is only associated with an elevated risk of divorce if the mother did not intend the birth.

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 Presented in Session 209. Fertility Intentions and Dynamics in Marriages and Families