Unintended pregnancy has been linked to less adequate prenatal care, low birth weight, as well as increased risk of infant mortality, child abuse and developmental deficits. The association between unintended pregnancy and child development has lead experts to recommend increased efforts to reduced unintended pregnancy. However, evidence on whether unintended pregnancies cause adverse birth and developmental outcomes is surprisingly sparse. The proposed research will investigate empirically the causal link between unintended pregnancy and child health and development, and adverse parental behaviors that affect child health and development. The proposed research improves on previous studies in several ways. First, the investigators use two complementary sources of data: the NLS and NMIHS. The two sources of data broaden the number of outcomes that may be analyzed and allow us to test the robustness of the findings of the proposed study. Second, the investigators exploit information on siblings and first cousins to control for unobserved factors related to both child outcomes and unintended pregnancy. Prior studies have not adequately controlled for the confounding effects of family and social background. Finally, the investigators provide a conceptual and empirical link between studies of denied abortion and analyses of survey questions on pregnancy intentions. Although research has suggested that abortion availability is related to unwanted childbearing, there has been no attempt to incorporate abortion availability into an analysis of the consequences of unintended births. The proposed research addresses the following questions: 1) Is there a relationship between unintended pregnancy and child development? 2) Is this relationship robust across samples drawn from different data sources? 3) Does the relationship between unintended births and child development change when one controls for unobserved factors related to family environment? 4) What is the relationship between access to abortion and survey measures of pregnancy intentions? 5) Is there evidence that unintended births, as measured in surveys, play a mediating role in the relationship between abortion access and child development? Or does access to abortion have a direct effect on child development, holding constant the pregnancy intentions of the birth? 6) Does the timing of the measurement of pregnancy intentions (ex post versus ex ante) change estimates of the effect of pregnancy intentions on child outcomes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
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Social Sciences and Population Study Section (SSP)
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Bernard M. Baruch College
Other Domestic Higher Education
New York
United States
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