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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

CUNY: Exploring the Social Contexts Behind Family Planning

To understand the circumstances in which pregnancy occurs in the United States, there have been some studies into the decision-making behind family formation, but there is a lack of qualitative research into the contextual influences among individuals across different racial and ethnic groups, income, and education levels.

To address this gap, a research team including CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy faculty Dr. Meredith Manze and Dr. Diana Romero and doctoral graduates Dr. Dana Watnick and Dr. Catherine Besthoff led a study into how the circumstances and events in peoples’ lives are related to family formation. The findings were published in the Journal of Family Studies.

As part of the Social Position and Family Formation (SPAFF) project, a large-scale in-depth interview study of factors influencing different aspects of family formation in the context of participants’ social position, the team interviewed 60 men and women aged 18-35 who had children or were pregnant. Dr. Manze and colleagues identified ideal criteria that participants almost universally wanted to achieve before becoming pregnant: to graduate, gain financial stability, and establish a relationship. However, many participants did not meet these goals. Notably, those who did not had experienced traumatic childhoods and suffered economic concerns.

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