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Keywords:

  • birth planning status;
  • cohabitation;
  • family change;
  • nonmarital childbearing

This paper uses data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth to examine social, demographic, and economic correlates of planned and unplanned childbearing among unmarried women. I look at who has births outside of marriage, who plans births outside of marriage, and how childbearing patterns vary for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. I find that low education increases the likelihood of planned and unplanned childbearing outside of marriage for all race and ethnic groups. The same holds for cohabitation, although effects on planned births are notably stronger for Hispanics than others. Finally, spending time in a single-parent family as a child increases planned and unplanned childbearing among White women, with modest or no effects among Blacks or Hispanics. Results suggest ways in which the meaning of childbearing depends on the context in which it occurs.