Planned Parenthood? Fertility Intentions and Experiences among Cohabiting Couples
Most research on nonmarital births focuses on disadvantaged populations. This study examined the childbearing expectations and experiences of a workingclass sample, drawing on in-depth interviews with 30 cohabiting couples. Few couples in the sample were attempting to conceive; most desired to defer parenting. Three responses emerged to how a pregnancy would be resolved. The largest group would be dismayed but would bear the child. A smaller set indicated that it would terminate a pregnancy. The third group disagreed on the outcome. Relationship context and partner attributes were key factors in fertility decisions. Couples who believed that they had a future together were most likely to agree that they would have the child, though not necessarily preceded by marriage; they were the most consistent users of contraception. Couples of the second and third groups (termination, nonconcurrence) were less regular or less effective contraceptors. Results are discussed in light of public policy interest in reducing nonmarital births.
Policy Analysis and Management
Previously Published As
Journal of Family Issues. 30:206-232