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Latino fathers’ childbearing intentions: The view from mother-proxy vs. father self-reports Lina Guzman, Jennifer Manlove, & Kerry Franzetta. OVERVIEW & BACKGROUND. Overview. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth

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Latino fathers’ childbearing intentions:

The view from mother-proxy vs. father self-reports

Lina Guzman, Jennifer Manlove, & Kerry Franzetta

  • Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth

Cohort (ECLS-B), we examine patterns in father’s childbearing

intentions and how the picture that emerges varies by source of


  • Specifically, we explore father childbearing intentions by

comparing mother-proxy and father self-reports.

  • We further examine how patterns in Latino fathers’ childbearing

intentions across mother-proxy and father self-reports vary by

relationship type and nativity status.

background significance
Background & Significance
  • While some research has been conducted on male childbearing intentions, few studies have explored the fertility intentions of Latino men.
  • Understanding male Latino fertility is important:
      • Given immigration patterns; and
      • Higher rates of fertility among Latinos.
  • Important given evidence that male fertility intentions have as much weight as female intentions in influencing couple childbearing behaviors and similar effects on child outcomes.
data set
Data Set

Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), 9-month

  • Nationally representative survey of children born in 2001
  • Information on the relationship type between biological parents at time of conception and birth available
    • Married, cohabiting, and neither married or cohabiting
  • Multiple measures of intendedness:
    • Including whether the pregnancy was intended, mistimed, or unwanted
  • Reports of fathers childbearing intentions are collected from both mothers (proxy-reports) and fathers (self-reports)

Variables & Methods

  • Mother’s Characteristics:
  • Nativity status
  • Relationship status at conception
  • Age at birth
  • Educational attainment
  • Worked in 12 mos prior to birth
  • Prior births
  • Ever previously married
  • Father’s Characteristics:
  • Age at birth
  • Educational attainment

Methods: T-Tests & Logistic Regression

  • Sample is drawn from 10,105 children who(se):
      • Have a Latina mother;
      • Resided with their biological mother;
      • Biological mother responded to the parent questionnaire, and;
      • Have valid sample weights

Two analytical samples were constructed:

  • Mother-sample includes 1,551 cases where:
    • Mother-proxy reports of father childbearing intentions were available;
    • Relationship status between the child’s biological mother and father at the time of conception is known.
  • Father-sample includes 925 cases :
    • Subset of the mother-sample;
    • Limited to cases where father self-reports of his childbearing intentions were available.

Father’s childbearing intentions

  • Intended:

Pregnancy occurred at the right time or later, or father wanted the baby when he discovered they were pregnant

  • Mistimed:

Pregnancy occurred sooner than preferred

  • Unwanted:

Reports “not wanting mother to become pregnant” or “probably did not want” or “didn’t care about having” a(nother) baby


Figure 1. Estimates of intendedness among Latino fathers is higher when we use mother-proxy reports of father childbearing intentions than father self-reports.


Figure 2. This pattern is consistent across all relationship types and nativity types, with one exception. Among native-born cohabitors, a higher percentage of fathers report the birth was intended than mother.


Figure 3. The difference in father’s intendedness between mother-proxy and father self-reports is most pronounced among marrieds and “neithers.” In contrast, among cohabitors mother-proxy and father self-reports are similar.


Figure 4. Overall, the pattern that emerges when we compare mother-proxy and father self-reports of father intendedness does not vary by nativity status.


Figure 5. Percentage of unwanted births among Latino fathers nearly doubles if we use father self-reports than mother-proxy reports.


Figure 6. Discrepancies that emerge in the percent of Latino fathers who had an unwanted birth by source of report is most pronounced among the foreign-born.


Figure 7. With the exception of cohabitors, a similar picture emerges for the percentage of Latino fathers for whom the birth was mistimed whether we use mother-proxy or father self-reports.


Factors associated with reports of father intendedness

* “ ” Indicate significance at .05 level and below and direction of effect.

ns=not significant at .05 level.

Model includes controls for key background characteristics.

- Not assessed.


Background factors associated with father’s intendedness

  • Mothers’ and fathers’ age:
    • Younger age at birth is associated with lower odds of fathers having an intended birth.
    • This is true whether mother-proxy or father self-reports are used and across most relationship types.
  • No prior birth:
    • Having no prior births is associated with lower odds of father intendedness.
    • The exceptions include the cohabiting sample using father reports, and the cohabiting and neither samples using mother-proxy reports.


  • Picture that emerges of Latino fathers’ childbearing intentions varies by source of report.
  • In general, mothers appear to overestimate the degree to which births are intended by fathers and underestimate extent of unwantedness.
      • According to mother-proxy reports of fathers childbearing intentions, roughly 2/3 of births were intended by fathers. In contrast, just over ½ of fathers report that the birth was intended.
  • There is one exception to this “general rule”.
      • Using father self-reports, approximately half of births were intended by fathers who are native-born cohabitors compared to 40% using mother-proxy reports.
      • Over half of cohabiting foreign-born fathers also reported having an intended birth (not shown).
      • Together these findings are consistent with research suggesting that cohabiting unions are more likely to be perceived by both Latino men and women as appropriate forfamily building and/or a marriage-like arrangement.


  • Patterns in father childbearing intentions and the magnitude of discrepancies across source of report vary by relationship type and, to a lesser extent by nativity status.
    • Discrepancies are most pronounced among those who were married at the time of conception or outside of a residential union.
    • In contrast, a very similar picture emerges for cohabitors whether mother-proxy or father self-reports are used.
      • This may suggest that cohabitors are more likely to discuss and/or be aware of father childbearing intentions.
  • Similar factors are associated with mother proxy-reports and father self-reports of father’s childbearing intentions including relationship type, age at birth, and fertility history.
  • Study is based on childbearing intention reports of pregnancies that resulted in live births.
    • Childbearing intentions of pregnancies that do not result in live births (i.e., terminate pregnancy) may differ from those included in this study.
  • Sample of fathers likely underrepresents nonresidential fathers.
  • Since nonresidential fathers are more likely to report unintended births and terminated pregnancies are more likely to be unintended, the results of our study may underestimate the magnitude of discrepancies between mother-proxy and father self-reports.
  • Data on fathers (e.g., father’s family background, employment history, etc.) is largely limited to measures collected from mothers.
    • As such, models estimating father’s intentions may have low predictive power.
next steps
Next Steps
  • Conduct analyses of factors associated with couples’ discrepancies in reports of father intentions.
  • Conduct qualitative interviews with Latino couples who have recently become parents to explore the sources of discrepancies in childbearing intentions.
    • Are childbearing intentions/desires discussed?
    • Are partners aware of each others’ intentions/desires?
    • Are couples more likely to be aware of and discuss mothers’ intentions than fathers? Does this help to explain discrepancies?
    • Are behaviors (e.g., contraception) consistent with intentions/desires?
    • Are our current measures and categories of childbearing intentions appropriate for Latinos?
      • Recent research suggests that childbearing intentions may be more nuanced than what is captured in our discrete categories
Funding for this study was provided by NICHD Research Supplement for Underrepresented Minorities

Grant # RO1 HD044761-02S1. The authors gratefully acknowledge the research assistance by Erin Schelar.