We investigate hypotheses about dynamic processes in these behaviors during early adulthood in order to shed light on persisting racial differences in rates of unintended pregnancies in the United States. Hypotheses There are multiple aspects of sex and contraceptive use. Data and Methods Data The RDSL study began with a representative random, population-based sample of 1, young women, ages 18—19, residing in a single Michigan county.
Edin and Kefalas described poor young women who perceive potential stability in a path of early sex, lack of contraception, and early parenthood. Seven respondents were not included in our analytic sample because they completed only one journal in the first 12 months of the study. The present study contributes to our understanding of these proximate determinants of pregnancy among young women in two important ways. More recent studies have also documented the persistence of these ideas Thorburn and Bogart An in-depth study of class and sexual behavior among college women found that young women from more-advantaged social backgrounds, who also had higher academic aspirations, delayed serious relationships and pregnancy in explicit recognition that their opportunity costs were high Armstrong and Hamilton These behaviors then set the stage for future behavior in adulthood. The specific analytic sample for each outcome is described in more detail in the next section. Please select one or more groups: Black women were more likely to use less effective methods for pregnancy prevention e. At its inception, the U. Less frequent and less consistent contraceptive use. Less use of highly effective contraceptive methods. The uncertainty and instability endemic to concentrated poverty Gottschalk and Moffitt ; Western et al. We restrict our analyses to the first 12 months of the study, when response rates were highest. The results presented in this article were comparable with those that included the remaining non-Hispanic groups either with whites or as a separate category. 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. 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. Legacy of Eugenics Although poverty may affect contraceptive use, given that poor women are less likely to have insurance 3 Ebrahim et al. Contraceptive non-use is higher among black young people than white young people; and among users, black young people are less likely to report highly effective methods e. Provider bias in contraceptive counseling Dehlendorf et al. 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 We hypothesize that three broad sets of factors may lead to these black-white differences in sex and contraceptive use: We focus on the beginning of the transition to adulthood, from age 18 or 19 through age 20 or 21, which spans a particularly important period of the life course. Poor women may also perceive lower potential for education and careers, which would reduce their opportunity costs for having early sex and unprotected sex. 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. 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. Because we investigate multiple outcomes, the analytic sample varies by outcome.
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