Journal of Population Research

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 327–357 | Cite as

The effects of preconception desires and intentions on pregnancy wantedness

  • Warren B. MillerEmail author
  • Jo Jones


Do preconception intentions to conceive add to the prediction of pregnancy wantedness beyond the effect of preconception desires? This paper addresses that question, using data regarding the most recent pregnancy of 2,299 women respondents to the 2002 U.S. National Survey of Family Growth. We test a structural equation model predicting a woman’s pregnancy wantedness with her preconception desires, her perception of her partner’s preconception desires, and her preconception intentions. In this multivariate setting, preconception intentions do not predict pregnancy wantedness in the overall sample. However, they do predict wantedness in certain demographic contexts. We identify three patterns of change in our model that occur in selected contexts. We then use these patterns to hypothesize three psychosocial mechanisms by which preconception intentions may increase the wantedness of a pregnancy beyond that resulting from the woman’s preconception desires to get pregnant and her perception of her partner’s preconception desires.


Pregnancy wantedness Preconception intentions Preconception desires Partner preconception desires Couple decision commitment Concern with infertility Female empowerment 



We greatly appreciate the invaluable support of William D. Mosher, National Center for Health Statistics, who facilitated the development, execution, and reporting of this research. We also appreciate the guidance of David J. Pasta during data analysis and interpretation. We also thank the following individuals at the National Center for Health Statistics for their thoughtful reviews of earlier versions of this manuscript: Stephanie J. Ventura, Julia S. Holmes, and Jennifer H. Madans. Their comments and suggestions helped improve the conceptualization and focus of this paper. The findings and conclusions reported here are ours alone and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Transnational Family Research InstituteAptosUSA
  2. 2.National Center for Health StatisticsHyattsvilleUSA

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