Data concerning the planning circumstances of the interval preceding each pregnancy, collected from a national sample of 4810 married women, are used to establish the fertility planning status of each respondent as one of five classes: (1) never-pregnant; (2) number failure; (3) at least one timing failure; (4) at least one timing success; (5) neither success nor failure. For the ever-pregnant women who intended no more children, 32 percent of the exposed were number failures and 62 percent of the rest were timing failures. For the ever-pregnant women who intended more children, 67 percent of the exposed were timing failures. Women not exposed to the risk of timing failure because they claimed to want all of their pregnancies as soon as possible had similar characteristics to women reporting failures; accordingly the reliability of their reports is suspect. The probabilities of failure are well-patterned by race, religion and education: higher for Blacks than for Whites; within the latter, higher for Catholics than for Non-Catholics; and inversely related to education, except among White Catholics. Although uniformly high, the proportions classified as failures are probably under-estimates of the true values for completed families, because of misreporting and continuing exposure to risk, subsequent to interview.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.


Potvin, Raymond H., Westoff, C. F., & Ryder, N. B. (
Factors affecting Catholic wives’ conformity to their Church Magisterium’s position on birth control
Journal of Marriage and the Family
Ryder, Norman B., and Charles F. Westoff. 1969. Relationships among intended, expected, desired and ideal family size: United States, 1965. Center for Population Research, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Whelpton, Pascal K., Campbell, Arthur A., & Patterson, John E. (
Fertility and Family Planning in the United States
Princeton University Press