Question C-6. And what about your partner at the time you became pregnant …, did he want you to have a(nother) baby at some time?

Yes

1 (go to question C-7)

No

2 (skip out)

Don't know

3 (skip out)

Question C-7. Did you become pregnant sooner than he wanted, later than he wanted, or at about the right time?

Sooner

1

Later

2

Right time

3

Didn't care

4

Pregnancies are classified as "wanted" if the answer to question C-5 was "later" or "right time." Pregnancies for which the answer to question C-5 was "didn't care'' are also commonly classified as "wanted." Pregnancies are classified as "mistimed" if the answer to question C-5 was "sooner." Finally, pregnancies for which the answer to question C-3 was "no" or the answer to question C-4 was "probably no" are classified as "unwanted."

Although the NSFG has effectively measured trends in unintended pregnancy, there are some limitations to the kinds of analysis that can be done. First, as with most fertility surveys, the NSFG suffers from underreporting of abortion. An estimated 35 percent of the actual abortions in the 4-year period prior to the 1988 survey were reported in the survey (Jones and Forrest, 1992). Because not all women surveyed report all of the abortions that they have had, most studies of unintendedness have minimized bias by restricting the sample to live births. Many analysts also adjust for underreported abortions by assuming that 100 percent of unreported abortions were unintended pregnancies.

A second limitation of the data is that the wantedness questions are misunderstood by some respondents. Teenagers seem particularly vulnerable to misunderstanding, as indicated by the large proportion of recent births to teens that were reported unwanted—22 percent of births to women ages 15–19 in the 5 years before the 1988 interview date (Piccinino, forthcoming). Testing of a follow-up clarifying question in the NCHS Questionnaire Design Research Laboratory found evidence that although some women accurately reported a pregnancy as unwanted (they did not want to get pregnant then or at any time in the future), other women who reported pregnancies as unwanted corrected their answers to say that they had become pregnant sooner than they had wanted, that is, the pregnancy was mistimed, but not unwanted. Two often-mentioned circumstances that apparently led women to mistakenly answer that they "did not want to have a(nother) baby at some time" were (1) the pregnancy occurred much earlier than desired, possibly by many years, and (2) they had no desire



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement