A Weitzman, J Barber, J Heinze, Y Kusunoki, M Zimmerman. Exposure to Nearby Homicides and Young Women’s Reproductive Lives During the Transition to Adulthood. PAA 2022 Annual Meeting.
We assess how nearby homicides affect the risk of pregnancy and its behavioral and psychosocial antecedents by exploiting spatiotemporal variation in homicides occurring amidst a weekly panel survey in Flint, Michigan. Specifically, we compare the same women’s reproductive outcomes when a homicide did and did not occur within a quarter-mile of their homes that week. Women’s probability of conceiving a pregnancy was more than double in weeks when a nearby homicide occurred, relative to when one had not. This substantial increase in pregnancy risk was driven by a similarly substantial decrease in contraceptive use, especially among women using short-acting hormonal methods. Contraceptive changes, however, were not accompanied by changes in feelings about pregnancy or contraception, nor were they accompanied by changes in contraceptive access or forgetfulness. Rather, in weeks when nearby homicides occurred, women were less likely to use contraception “just because,” suggesting a marked decline in their reproductive vigilance.