For instance, respondents are at risk of using contraception to prevent pregnancy only if they are having sex. Although overall pregnancy rates are higher at older ages, unintended pregnancies—which have been targeted for reduction by Healthy People goals in , , and 1 —peak at these ages Finer and Zolna Empirically testing these and other similar hypotheses requires dynamic data on sex and contraception use over time. Black women are more likely than their white peers to experience these sociodemographic disadvantages given that they are more likely to grow up with younger mothers, more family instability, and lower family income Browning and Barrington In this study, we investigate the role of two important proximate determinants of pregnancy—sex and contraceptive use—in producing these black-white differences. Also, some evidence has suggested that even though black women have sex earlier than their peers, they have more negative attitudes about sex Barber et al. The life course perspective emphasizes the importance of the timing and sequencing of experiences across the lifespan and proposes that individuals make choices conditional on these experiences and within the constraints and opportunities available to them Elder ; Mayer The involuntary sterilization of women receiving public assistance in the United States has been publically documented as recently as the s Boonstra et al.
Further, we find that net of race and adolescent experiences with sex and pregnancy, women from more-disadvantaged backgrounds had fewer and longer and thus potentially more serious relationships, used contraception less frequently but not less consistently , and used less effective methods condoms than women from more-advantaged backgrounds. Please select one or more groups: Less frequent and less consistent contraceptive use. Previous research has uncovered significant race differences that are not fully explained by economic factors e. Black women were more likely to use less effective methods for pregnancy prevention e. Background Adolescence and the transition to adulthood is a time of many persisting black-white differences in sex and contraceptive behaviors. More serious fewer and longer relationships and more frequent sex within relationships. The specific analytic sample for each outcome is described in more detail in the next section. This rich set of data allows, for the first time, an investigation of how race and other sociodemographic characteristics—both separately and in tandem—are related to dynamic pregnancy-related behaviors. This left respondents who contributed 25, weekly interviews in total. In addition, black women did not differ from white women in their number of discontinuations or different methods used and had fewer contraceptive method switches. The first component of data collection was a face-to-face baseline interview conducted between March and July , assessing sociodemographic characteristics, attitudes, relationship characteristics and history, contraceptive use, and pregnancy history. Contraceptive behavior includes use of any method, consistent use, and the effectiveness of the specific method used Kirby The research literature has suggested that 1 young women see their mothers or women in their neighborhoods as role models and imitate their behavior Axinn and Thornton ; Brewster ; Newcomer and Udry ; Thornton and Camburn ; 2 the often lower levels of parental supervision in disadvantaged households permit earlier and riskier sexual behavior Meade et al. The most innovative aspect of the RDSL study design was the second component of data collection—dynamic measurement of current pregnancy desires and pregnancy status, as well as characteristics of current relationships such as commitment level, sexual involvement, and contraceptive use —collected in weekly five-minute surveys over the following 30 months. Young women with these experiences may seek out romantic relationships as an escape from a harsh life Cavanagh et al. For example, researchers have posited that poor women have more serious relationships at younger ages, which contributes to their higher risk of early pregnancy Edin and Kefalas , and that black women discontinue their contraceptive methods more frequently than other women Hammerslough ; Trussell and Vaughan Poverty-related structural disadvantages in black neighborhoods—such as lower-quality schools, fewer churches, fewer community centers or associations, and generally less-cohesive local networks—may contribute to so-called ghetto-related behaviors, including teen and nonmarital pregnancy, among residents Anderson ; Wilson Hypothesis 3 Contraceptive Method: These strong preferences for delaying childbearing and marriage translate to contraceptive vigilance, given that the vast majority of young women have had sex by their early 20s Finer and Philbin Because our study investigates black-white differences, we also excluded 97 respondents who did not identify as non-Hispanic black or non-Hispanic white see description of race in Measures section. Hypotheses There are multiple aspects of sex and contraceptive use. Economic Opportunity and Attainment Because of higher rates of poverty, lower-quality early education, greater labor market discrimination, and residence in more-disadvantaged neighborhoods, black women tend to have less education, lower employment rates, and fewer opportunities for economic attainment than white women Avery and Rendall ; Conley ; Isaacs ; Oliver and Shapiro ; Orr ; Proctor and Dalaker Because we investigate multiple outcomes, the analytic sample varies by outcome. Poor women may also perceive lower potential for education and careers, which would reduce their opportunity costs for having early sex and unprotected sex.
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