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Material Hardship and Contraceptive Use During the Transition to Adulthood

Elly Field ()
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Elly Field: University of Michigan

Demography, 2020, vol. 57, issue 6, No 5, 2057-2084

Abstract: Abstract Decades of research have attempted to understand the paradox of stubbornly high unintended pregnancy rates despite widespread use of contraception. Much of this research has focused on socioeconomic disparities in rates of unintended pregnancy, finding that economically disadvantaged women tend to use less effective contraceptive methods and use them less consistently. Building on this research, this study examines how material hardship is associated with less consistent contraceptive use among women who do not desire to become pregnant. Using the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) Study, a weekly longitudinal survey, I find lower levels of contraceptive use and less consistent use of contraception among women experiencing material hardship, relative to those without hardship experiences. I also investigate the extent to which this association is explained by access barriers and lower contraceptive efficacy among women experiencing hardship. Using structural equation modeling, I find that these mediators significantly explain the relationship between hardship and risky contraceptive behaviors, suggesting that hardship creates mental and resource constraints that impede successful implementation of contraception. However, net of these mediators, material hardship remains associated with riskier contraceptive behaviors among young women, calling for further research on how hardship exposes women to greater risk of unintended pregnancies.

Keywords: Poverty; Material hardship; Contraception; Cognitive burden (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s13524-020-00922-3

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