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Are Hispanic Women Happier About Unintended Births?


  • Caroline Hartnett



Reducing unintended pregnancies—particularly among Hispanic and Black women, who have relatively high rates—is a key public health goal in the United States. However, descriptive literature has suggested that Hispanic women are happier about these pregnancies compared with White and Black women, which could mean that there is variation across groups in the consequences of the resulting births. The purpose of this study was to examine variations in happiness about unintended births by race–ethnicity and to assess possible explanations for these differences. Using data from the National Survey of Family Growth (N = 1,462 births) I find that Hispanic women report being happier about unintended births compared with White and Black women. Higher happiness among Hispanics was particularly pronounced among a subgroup of women: those who were foreign-born and very religious. Overall, results confirm previous findings that intention status alone is incomplete for capturing pregnancy experiences. Happiness offers complementary information that is important when making comparisons by race–ethnicity and nativity. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline Hartnett, 2012. "Are Hispanic Women Happier About Unintended Births?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 31(5), pages 683-701, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:poprpr:v:31:y:2012:i:5:p:683-701
    DOI: 10.1007/s11113-012-9252-7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kendall, Carl & Afable-Munsuz, Aimee & Speizer, Ilene & Avery, Alexis & Schmidt, Norine & Santelli, John, 2005. "Understanding pregnancy in a population of inner-city women in New Orleans--results of qualitative research," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 297-311, January.
    2. Emilio Parrado & S. Morgan, 2008. "Intergenerational fertility among hispanic women: New evidence of immigrant assimilation," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(3), pages 651-671, August.
    3. Pollak, R.A. & Watkins, S.C., 1993. "Cultural and Economic Approaches to Fertility : A Proper Marriage or a Mesalliance?," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 93-11, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
    4. Heckman, James J & Walker, James R, 1990. "The Relationship between Wages and Income and the Timing and Spacing of Births: Evidence from Swedish Longitudinal Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1411-1441, November.
    5. Robert J. Willis, 1999. "A Theory of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 33-64, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cowan, Sarah K., 2017. "Enacted abortion stigma in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 259-268.
    2. Aiken, Abigail R.A. & Dillaway, Chloe & Mevs-Korff, Natasha, 2015. "A blessing I can't afford: Factors underlying the paradox of happiness about unintended pregnancy," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 149-155.


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