The Reproductive Context of Cohabitation in Comparative Perspective: Recent Patterns of Contraceptive Use in the United States and Spain

Megan M. Sweeney, University of California, Los Angeles
Teresa Castro Martin, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Using data from the 2006-08 National Survey of Family Growth, the 2006 Fertility, Family, and Values Survey, and the Fertility and Family Surveys of the mid-1990s, we investigate change and variability in contraceptive use in the context of cohabitation in the U.S. and Spain. Scholars frequently compare patterns of conception, childbearing, and child rearing in studies of how the function of cohabitation differs from that of marriage. Although contraceptive use is a key proximate determinant of fertility, and provides an important alternate window onto intentions to avoid pregnancy, relatively little is known about patterns of contraceptive use among cohabitors. Comparing women in the U.S. and Spain, we ask how “marriage like” cohabitation is with respect to patterns of contraceptive use. We also investigate historical change and variability across educational groups in the extent to which cohabitation is “marriage like” with respect to contraceptive use in each country.

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Presented in Session 183: Contextual Influences on Fertility Intentions