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Keywords:

  • family planning;
  • National Survey of Families and Households;
  • transition to parenthood;
  • well-being

Extant research suggests that parents are more depressed than childless adults, yet the role of pregnancy intentions is largely absent from the discussion. Using 2 waves of data from the National Survey of Families and Households (n = 825 women, n = 889 men), the author found that pregnancy intentions are an important consideration for parents' well-being. The results suggest that unintended births are associated with increased depressive symptoms among fathers and decreased happiness among mothers. This association persisted even after accounting for union status and measures of depressive symptoms and happiness prior to the birth. The author also investigated the social, psychological, and economic mechanisms that explain this relationship. Self-efficacy and financial strain partially explain the link between unintended births and poorer well-being.