Racial/Ethnic Differences in Unintended Pregnancy

Evidence From a National Sample of U.S. Women
Published:November 23, 2015DOI:


      Racial and ethnic minorities experience greater burden of unintended pregnancy in the U.S. This study examined the factors associated with racial and ethnic disparities in unintended pregnancy among women in the U.S. using the social ecological model.


      This study utilized the National Survey of Family Growth data from 2006 to 2010. Data were analyzed in Autumn 2014 and Winter 2015. Decomposition analyses examined which intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, community, and public policy factors explained racial and ethnic disparities in unintended pregnancy.


      Unadjusted analyses found that black and Hispanic women had a greater likelihood of unintended pregnancy compared with white women. Decomposition models explained 51% of the disparity in unintended pregnancy between black and white women and 73% of that between Hispanic and white women. Factors contributing to the disparity between black and white women included age, relationship status, respondent’s mother’s age at first birth, Federal Poverty Level, and insurance status. Between Hispanic and white women, these factors included age, U.S.-born status, education, and relationship status.


      Given that the results showed factors at different levels of the social ecological model contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in unintended pregnancy, interventions that aim to reduce these disparities should target at-risk groups of women such as younger, unmarried, lower-income, less-educated, non–U.S. born women and uninsured or publicly insured women.
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