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The Changing Context of Contraceptive Choice across the Reproductive Life Course in the USA and Britain

19th January 2017 3pm, University of Southampton, Room 1065, Building 58

Megan Sweeney, UCLA/University of Oxford

The association between early and unintended childbearing and women's socioeconomic standing has been of longstanding interest to social scientists. Recent policy discussions emphasize the potential for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) to reduce poverty and inequality. Our understanding of social-class disparities in LARC use, however, remains limited. In particular, although the context of contraceptive decision-making varies across the reproductive life course, little work directly considers how the context of contraceptive choice varies for the time before a first birth occurs (childbearing "starters"), the time between births (childbearing "spacers"), and the time after the end of intended childbearing (childbearing "limiters"). We address this omission using recent survey data from the United States (National Survey of Family Growth) and Britain (National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles). We consider our findings in light of ongoing policy discussions about the potential for LARCs to reduce inequality and poverty among disadvantaged women and children.