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Do Reproductive Attitudes and Knowledge Explain Race-Ethnic-Nativity Differences in Unintended Fertility?

Sun, August 11, 2:30 to 4:10pm, Sheraton New York, Floor: Lower Level, Union Square


Race-ethnic-nativity differences in unintended fertility have been well established but not fully explained, even when accounting for socioeconomic differentials. One oft-suggested explanation is that minorities have less accurate reproductive knowledge and hold different attitudes toward the costs and benefits of having children under various circumstances relative to Whites, both of which could elevate unintended fertility risks. In this paper, we test whether reproductive attitudes and knowledge explain race-ethnic-nativity differences in the risk of having an unintended first birth and of having any unintended births (relative to no births and to intended births). We use the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and follow a sample of childless teens aged 15 and older at Wave I to Wave IV (N = 4,830). Using multidimensional concepts of reproductive knowledge and attitudes established from factor analyses, we find that although they vary by race-ethnicity-nativity and are modestly associated with unintended fertility, they do not explain race-ethnic-nativity differences. Further investigation provides insight why: the identified reproductive attitudinal and knowledge factors do not hold equally well across race-ethnic-nativity groups, as shown when testing measurement invariance and conducting factor analyses separately by race-ethnicity-nativity. This suggests that attitudinal and knowledge measures may tap into different underlying concepts across sub-populations.