Birth Expectations of U.S. Women Aged 15–44

Questions for Jill Daugherty and Gladys Martinez, Health Statisticians and Lead Authors on “Birth Expectations of U.S. Women Aged 15–44

Q: There is a perception that fewer women are interested in having children compared with in the past. Does your study reflect that?

JD GM: No, our data do not support this perception. In 2013-2015, 50% of women aged 15-44 expected to have a child in the future. This percentage has significantly increased from 46% of women, seen in 2002.


Q: What was the most surprising finding in your study?

JD GM: There were a couple of findings in our study that went somewhat against expectations based on prior research:

  • Among currently cohabiting women, 16% expected to have a child within 2 years which is similar to the 19% seen for currently married women. Both of these groups were more likely to expect to have a child within 2 years than were never married, non-cohabiting women (5%).
  • Among women with no children, 22% did not expect to have a child in the future, and among women who already had one child , nearly one-half (48%) did not expect to have another. These percentages are perhaps a bit higher than what might be expected based on other data that show the percentage of all women who eventually have on average two children.

Q: Are there economic factors related to birth expectations for women?

JD GM: This data brief did not examine economic factors related to birth expectations for women. Previous reports using NSFG data have looked at birth expectations by poverty status (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_026.pdf), and this type of analysis could be done again using the 2013-2015 public use data. However, in this data brief we did examine how age and number of biological children was associated with women’s birth expectations. In general, we found that younger women and women with no biological children were more likely to expect to have children in the future than older women and women who already have biological children.


Q: What are the differences, if any, among race-ethnic groups as far as birth expectations?

JD GM: This data brief did not examine differences between racial and ethnic groups in birth expectations. Previous reports have look at differences by race-ethnicity (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_026.pdf), and again this type of analysis could be done using the 2013-2015 public use data.


Q: Are there similar data available about birth expectations among men?

JD GM: Although the NSFG collects similar data among men, we did not include data on men in this brief report. These data are part of our public use data files that were released on October 13, 2016.

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