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Urban and rural variation in fertility-related behavior among U.S. women, 2011-2015
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  • Description:
    In 2010, one-fifth of the U.S. population lived in rural areas (1). There is known variation in social, demographic, and health characteristics across urban and rural residence (1–3). Recent National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports show higher teen birth and infant mortality rates in rural counties than in urban counties (4,5). Less is known about urban and rural variation in fertility-related behavior, such as sexual activity and contraceptive use. Using National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) data from 2011 through 2015 for women aged 18–44, this report describes urban-rural differences in first sexual intercourse, marital and cohabitation status, number of births, and contraceptive use based on residence at the time of interview.

    Key findings

    Data from the National Survey of Family Growth:

    • Among women aged 18–44, the average age at first sexual intercourse was younger for women living in rural areas (16.6) compared with women living in urban areas (17.4).

    • Similar percentages of women living in urban and rural areas were currently married, cohabiting, or never married. A higher percentage of women living in rural areas were formerly married.

    • A higher percentage of women living in rural areas had at least one birth compared with women in urban areas.

    • A higher percentage of women living in rural areas used one of the most effective methods of contraception (e.g., contraceptive sterilization or intrauterine device) at last sexual intercourse in the past year compared with women in urban areas.

    Suggested citation: Daniels K, Martinez GM, Nugent CN. Urban and rural variation in fertility-related behavior among U.S. women, 2011–2015. NCHS Data Brief, no 297. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2018.

    CS287619

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