Previous research has failed to generate consensus about why black fertility has persistently exceeded that of whites in the United States. In an effort to shed light on this question, this article examines black/white differences in sociodemographic factors affecting contraceptive choice. Using data from the 1976 and 1982 National Surveys of Family Growth, we find a complex pattern of black/white differences. Not only does contraceptive choice vary by race, but the effects of such variables as age, marital status, and education also differ between blacks and whites. For example, compared with whites, black married women avoid coital methods, and compared with blacks, white women shift contraceptive behavior more as they change marital status. The complex nature of the racial differences in contraceptive choice are interpreted as reflecting differences in marriage patterns and trends.

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