Sociology Faculty Publications

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Despite extensive research examining the correlates of unintended fertility, it remains a puzzle as to why racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to experience an unintended birth than non-Hispanic whites. This paper focuses on sexual literacy, a potential precursor of unintended fertility. Analyses use a unique dataset of unmarried young adults aged 18-29, the 2009 Survey of Unmarried Young Adults’ Contraceptive Knowledge and Practices, to examine beliefs regarding pregnancy risks, pregnancy fatalism, and contraceptive side effects. At the bivariate level, foreign-born Hispanics hold more erroneous beliefs about the risk of pregnancy than other groups, and non-Hispanic blacks are more likely to believe in contraceptive side effects than non-Hispanic whites. Both foreign-born Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to hold a fatalistic view towards pregnancy. Race-ethnic differences are attenuated for pregnancy misperceptions and fatalism in multivariate models controlling for sources of health information, sexual and fertility experiences, and sociodemographic characteristics. However, non-Hispanic blacks remain more likely than non-Hispanic whites to believe there is a high chance of reduced sexual desire and serious health consequences when using hormonal contraceptives. These differences may contribute to race-ethnic variation in contraceptive use and, ultimately, unintended fertility.

Publication Date

2012

Publication Title

Race and Social Problems

Volume

4

Start Page No.

158

End Page No.

170

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