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Poverty and InequalitySexual and Reproductive HealthFamily, Maternal & Child HealthMethodology

Why do poor men have children? fertility intentions among low-income unmarried U.S. fathers

TitleWhy do poor men have children? fertility intentions among low-income unmarried U.S. fathers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsAugustine, JM, Nelson, T, Edin, K
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume624
Pagination99-117
ISBN Number00027162 (ISSN)
KeywordsDisadvantage, Fatherhood, Fertility decisions, Nonmarital childbearing, Planned pregnancy, Poverty, Unplanned pregnancy
Abstract

Over the past several decades, nonmarital childbearing rates have risen sharply, especially among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. Recent research suggests that disadvantaged Americans may defer or delay marriage in part because of perceived economic barriers. Yet, childbearing is also costly. Few studies have examined low-income parents' motivations for having children in a context of socioeconomic disadvantage. This study deploys qualitative data drawn from repeated, in-depth interviews with a heterogeneous sample of low-income, noncustodial fathers (N = 171) in which men describe in rich detail the circumstances surrounding the conceptions of each of their children and characterize their fertility intentions. The authors find that "planned" and "unplanned" pregnancies are at either end of a continuum of intentionality and that the vast majority of pregnancies are in intermediate categories along that continuum.