Understanding U.S. Fertility: Continuity and change in the National Survey of Family Growth, 1988-1995

William Mosher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


About 50 studies based on the 1988 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) and a telephone reinterview conducted with the same women two years later provide continuing information about the fertility and health of American women. Among the findings of these studies are that black women have almost twice as many pregnancies as do white women (5.1 vs. 2.8), with nearly all of the difference being unintended pregnancies. Unwanted births increased between 1982 and 1988, particularly among less-educated, poor and minority women. This increase in the proportion of unwanted births may have prompted the increase in female sterilization among these groups. Concern with the AIDS epidemic led to increases in condom use between 1982 and 1990, especially among the partners of teenagers and college-educated women. Rates of teenage pregnancy were fairly stable during the period 1980-1988, as increases in the proportion of teenagers having intercourse were offset by increases in condom use. Rates of infertility did not change significantly in the 1980s, but because of delayed childbearing and the aging of the baby- boom cohort, the number of older childless women increased substantially. The 1995 NSFG was redesigned in a number of ways in order to answer a new generation of questions about fertility and women's health in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-12
Number of pages9
JournalFamily Planning Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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