Revisiting the Relationship Between Pregnancy Intentions and Timing: The Mediating Role of Cohabitation

Mogi, Ryohei, and Fumiya Uchikoshi
Working paper no. 2019-01


The increase in nonmarital childbirth in Western countries has created more divergence in the order of family formation and has especially increased the ordering “cohabitation – childbirth – marriage”. However, in countries with a strong linkage between childbirth and marriage, another type of ordering has emerged, namely, “cohabitation – pregnancy – marriage – childbirth.” The increase in this type of family formation may be unintended, as previous research has found that premarital pregnancy is likely to be unintended, but it can also be an intentionally chosen life trajectory. Our main aim in this study is to investigate whether pregnancy for Japanese women who have followed the order “cohabitation – pregnancy -marriage – childbirth” is less, equally, or more intentional than that of women who follow different family formation sequences. The results from data on heterosexual females in their first marriage from the 14th round of the Japanese National Fertility Survey show that women who cohabited premaritally are more likely to report that their premarital pregnancy was intended. Previous research tends to focus on the rates of events, such as nonmarital childbirth and premarital pregnancy, but through investigating the order of family formation, we found that the association between bridal pregnancy and a lack of intentionality is heterogeneous depending on their cohabitation experience.