Intended and Unintended Births in the United States: 1982–2010
Report from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Objectives—This report shows trends since 1982 in whether a woman wanted to get pregnant just before the pregnancy occurred. This is the most direct measure available of the extent to which women are able (or unable) to choose to have the number of births they want, when they want them. In this report, this is called the ‘‘standard measure of unintended pregnancy.’’
Methods—The data used in this report are primarily from the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The 2006–2010 NSFG included in-person interviews with 12,279 women aged 15–44. Some data in the trend analyses are taken from NSFG surveys conducted in
1982, 1988, 1995, and 2002.
Results—About 37% of births in the United States were unintended at the time of conception. The overall proportion unintended has not declined significantly since 1982. The proportion unintended did decline significantly between 1982 and 2006–2010 among births to married, non-Hispanic white women. Large differences exist between groups in the percentage of births that are unintended. For example, unmarried women, black women, and women with less education or income are still much more likely to experience unintended births compared with married, white, college-educated, and high-income women.
This report also describes some alternative measures of unintended births that give researchers an opportunity to study this topic in new ways.
What We Do
NCRW is a network of leading university and community based research, policy, and advocacy centers with a growing global reach dedicated to advancing rights and opportunities for women and girls. We also have a Corporate Circle comprised of senior diversity professionals from leading U.S. and global member companies and a Presidents Circle of college and university leaders who share our commitment. NCRW harnesses the collective power of its network to provide knowledge, analysis, and thought leadership on issues ranging from reducing women’s poverty to building a critical mass of women’s leadership across sectors.