Negative Attitudes toward Medicine and Young Women's Contraceptive Behavior
Elizabeth Ela, University of Michigan
Nearly half of all unintended pregnancies in the U.S. occur to women using contraception, indicating that many women who wish to avoid pregnancy do not use highly effective contraceptive methods. Demographic research on contraceptive behavior has traditionally focused on fertility intentions, the relationship context of sexual intercourse, and unequal access to hormonal methods. Using weekly data from a longitudinal study of young women, I predict women’s use of specific contraceptive methods based on their beliefs about the safety of hormonal contraception—attitudes which may discourage the use of hormonal contraception, but have received less attention from fertility scholars. I find that women who believe hormonal contraception to be medically risky are less likely to use oral contraceptive pills and other hormonal methods. Moreover, the greater prevalence of these beliefs among low-income women and Black women partially accounts for socioeconomic and racial differences observed in the use of specific contraceptive methods.