The Association between Intendedness of First Birth and Completed Family Size: Trends and Patterns in the United States, 1973-2019

Sarah R. Hayford , The Ohio State University
Karen Guzzo, University of North Carolina
Luca Badolato, The Ohio State University

The conditions under which people have first births set the trajectory for future childbearing and family formation. In particular, women who have an unintended first birth may have systematically different patterns of childbearing and family formation than women with an intended first birth, resulting in different levels of completed fertility. In this project, we examine differences in completed childbearing based on intendedness of first births in the United States. We draw on data from the National Surveys of Family Growth, nationally-representative repeated cross-sectional surveys, to examine trends over time in these associations between 1973 and 2019. Preliminary descriptive results suggest that women with an unintended first birth have higher completed fertility than women with an intended first birth. The completed paper will examine the contribution of mechanisms related to conditions of unintended births (such as an earlier age at first birth and lower proportions of births in stable unions) to these associations. We will also consider the potential role of selection factors contributing to unintended fertility—such as fecundability, access to contraception, or childbearing orientations—in explaining this association.

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 Presented in Session 70. Contraception and Reproduction