Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Ann Powell


Using the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, this study investigates the effects of family structure, education, and religion on contraceptive use by never-married women aged 20-24 years. Included in the sample are sexually active women aged 20-24 who had never been married and were not cohabitating, who were not intending to become pregnant or were not pregnant, postpartum, or infertile for reasons other than for contraception at the time of the interview. Results indicate that Hispanic origin is related to use of less effective methods of contraception by sexually active women. Conversely, family structure influences contraceptive decisions in that women raised by both parents from birth to age 14 are likely to use more effective methods of contraception. Additionally, any family structure that is unchanging has this effect implying it is the stability of the structure rather than of whom it consists that created the effect. Current religious denomination also influences contraceptive decisions in that Mormons are less likely to use effective methods of contraceptives. However, this effect is based on a small number of Mormons in the sample whose behavior is markedly different from the mean of the sample. Education variables, including the education of the mother and the respondent, appear to have little effect on the contraceptive decisions of this selective sample. Other factors, it is apparent, affect contraceptive decisions by the women in my sample than were indicated by the previous literature. It is possible that this is due to other studies' concentration on adolescent behavior. It is also possible that the selection criteria, by design, produced a very homogeneous sample with regard to the variables included in the analysis. Future research should focus on determining social correlates to contraceptive use by women of this age group, as many of those expected to be important were not in this analysis, so that the predictors of use of effective contraceptive use might be determined.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Sociology and the Faculty of the Graduate College in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Sociology University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Brigid K. Howard July, 2002.