Increased prevalence of premarital pregnancy is thought to be a key indicator of family change in East Asian societies. Drawing on retrospective data on women’s pregnancy histories collected in 2016, we investigate prevalence, trends, and factors associated with premarital pregnancy in China. Overall, 12% of Chinese married women born between the 1970s and the 1990s have experienced at least one premarital pregnancy. Women in more recent cohorts are more likely than their counterparts born in the 1970s to have premarital pregnancies. Moreover, the cohort trend toward increased premarital pregnancies is largely because women with very low levels of education are increasingly more likely to have premarital pregnancies across cohorts. The diverging patterns of premarital pregnancy challenge the second demographic transition perspective that attributes family change in low-fertility countries to ideational change and the diffusion of innovative attitudes and behaviors from more advantaged groups to others.
Presented in Session 10. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior & Reproductive Health 2