The Desire to Become Pregnant and the Desire to Avoid Pregnancy: Ambivalence, Indifference, Pronatalism, and Antinatalism

Jennifer S. Barber, University of Michigan
Warren B. Miller, Transnational Family Research Institute
Heather H. Gatny, University of Michigan

Most research on unintended childbearing divides all pregnancies into three types: intended, mistimed, and unwanted. Pregnancy desires have more recently been measured by demographers with a bipolar continuum, such as the one used by the NSFG, where 0 means the woman wanted to avoid a pregnancy and 10 means she wanted to get pregnant. The Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study implemented an alternative approach to measuring pregnancy desires. The approach is based on the idea that there are two separate desires, driven by two fundamentally different types of motivation – the desire to get pregnant and have a child, and the desire to avoid getting pregnant and having a child. Each of these desires is unipolar. The goal of this paper is to explore those measures, their relationship to each other, and their relationship to subsequent pregnancy.

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Presented in Session 179: Innovations in Data Collection and Measurement on Fertility and Sexual Behavior