Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp 125–135 | Cite as

Socioeconomic Inequalities in Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion Decision

  • Laia Font-Ribera
  • Glòria Pérez
  • Joaquín Salvador
  • Carme Borrell


Pregnancy planning allows women to better control their life trajectory and contributes to the future child’s health and development. Many studies that have analyzed socioeconomic inequalities in unintended pregnancy only took into account those pregnancies ending in births. Few of them that analyzed unintended pregnancy, including both induced abortion and births, and its socioeconomic determinants, concluded that unintended pregnancy is more frequent in young, poor, or unmarried women. These inequalities have been poorly studied in Europe, especially in the southern European context. The aim of the present study is to describe socioeconomic inequalities in unintended pregnancy and in abortion decision in Barcelona, Spain. The major findings are that unintended pregnancies accounted for 41% of total pregnancy and of these, 60% ended in abortion. From all pregnancies, the proportion of induced abortion reached 25.6%. Compared to women with university studies, those with primary education uncompleted had more unintended pregnancies (OR = 7.22). When facing an unintended pregnancy, women of lower socioeconomic position are more likely to choose induced abortion, although this is not the case among young or single women. This study reveals deep socioeconomic inequalities in unintended pregnancies and abortion decision in Barcelona, Spain, where the birth rate is very low and the abortion rate is rising. Women in low socioeconomic positions have many more unintended pregnancies than better educated women. Except for young or single women, the lower the socioeconomic position, the higher the proportion of women who choose an induced abortion when facing an unintended pregnancy.


Unintended pregnancy Induced abortion Social inequalities Economic inequalities Pregnancy outcome 



We are grateful for the work done by the three REDCB nurses, Montserrat Cunillé, Montserrat Ricart, and Angelina Roig, and more than 200 health professionals in the city of Barcelona who took part in the registry, as well as all the mothers who agreed to be interviewed in-depth so soon after having their baby. We also thank Roser Bosser and Rosa Gispert from the Health Department of the Generalitat de Catalunya and Dave McFarlane for his help in editing the manuscript.

This study was used by Laia Font to obtain a Master’s of Public Health degree.

We have no conflict of interest.


This study was partially funded by Red de Centros de Investigación en Epidemiología y Salud Pública (Network of Research centers of Epidemiology and Public Health) of the Fondo de Investigaciones Sanitarias (CO3/09) and the CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Spain.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laia Font-Ribera
    • 1
  • Glòria Pérez
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Joaquín Salvador
    • 1
  • Carme Borrell
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Health Information ServiceAgency of Public Health of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.University Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.CIBER in Epìdemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP)BarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Agency of Public Health of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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