Unintended Childbearing and Children's Cognitive Ability and Achievement

Jennifer Barber, University of Michigan
Elizabeth Cooksey, Ohio State University
Linda Young-DeMarco, University of Michigan
Dawn S. Hurst, Ohio State University

This paper analyzes unintended childbearing and children's cognitive ability, paying particular attention to the ways in which families change after an unintended birth. Multilevel OLS and logistic regression analyses of NLSY and NLSY-C show a strong relationship between unintended status births and negative family change. Relative to an intended birth, after an unintended birth family income declines, families are less likely to own their home, have a savings account, and own their car. Mothers with an unintended birth are also less likely to live with their spouse or partner after the birth, and are more likely to be living with their parents. In spite of these rather dramatic negative family changes, children's cognitive ability is resilient to these family changes, at least in terms of the measures used in these analyses (the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, and the Peabody Individual Achievement Test).

Presented in Session 107: Fertility Attitudes and Preferences II