Are Teenagers and Young Adults Really So Different? Examining the Factors Associated with Unintended Pregnancy Among Women in their Teens and Early Twenties
Harbin, Vanessa Gamble
Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended (Finer and Zolna 2011). While much attention has been paid by researchers and policymakers to the factors associated with unintended pregnancy rates in teenagers, only recently has the focus turned to the growing rate among 20 to 25 year old women. Among teenagers, the most successful pregnancy prevention programs are those that target both sexual and nonsexual factors, but it is largely unknown what levers can be used to reduce unintended pregnancy in young adults. This study examines recent data from the 2006 to 2010 cycle of the National Survey of Family Growth to determine the different correlates of unintended pregnancy among women aged 15 to 19 and 20 to 25. I find statistically significant associations between unintended pregnancy and three variables in my model - parental marital status at a woman's birth, being in school, and having sex education before age 18 on saying no to sex - that are different in direction and magnitude for teens compared to young adults. I find similar associations for both teens and young adults between the likelihood of unintended pregnancy and being black, having Medicaid, and receiving birth control counseling. Understanding what factors are associated with unintended pregnancy among women in their early twenties as well as teenagers will help inform the commitment of limited resources toward the policies and programs likely to have the largest impact.
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