Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-5dd2w Total loading time: 0.44 Render date: 2022-05-17T12:16:50.689Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

HIGH PREVALENCE OF VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION AMONG AMERICAN WOMEN EXPLAINED BY TRADE-OFFS RESULTING FROM MALE PARENTAL COMMITMENT

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2017

Kermyt G. Anderson*
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma, USA
*

Summary

Tubal ligation is the modal form of family planning among American women aged 30 and older. As the preference for tubal ligation over cheaper, lower risk and more reliable methods, such as vasectomy, has puzzled experts, a theoretical approach that explains this preference would be useful. The present study investigates the high prevalence of voluntary sterilization among American women from the perspective of life history theory, arguing that the trade-offs between investing in current and future offspring will favour tubal ligation when women cannot obtain reliable male commitment to future parental investment. Data came from the National Survey of Fertility Barriers (NSFB), a nationally representative survey of 4712 American women aged 25–45 conducted between 2004 and 2007. Four novel predictions of the prevalence of tubal ligation, drawn from life history theory, were developed and tested: 1) it is most common among unpartnered women with children, and least common among married women with children; 2) it is negatively correlated with age at first birth; 3) it is least common among highly educated women without children, and most common among less educated women with children; and 4) among women with two or more children, it is positively correlated with lifetime number of long-term partners. These predictions were tested using multivariate regression analysis. The first prediction was not supported: women with children were more likely to be sterilized, regardless of their marital status. The other three predictions were all supported by the data. The results suggest that trade-offs influence women’s decisions to undergo voluntary sterilization. Women are most likely to opt for tubal ligation when the costs of an additional child will impinge on their ability to invest in existing offspring, especially in the context of reduced male commitment.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press, 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Alexander, R. D. (1974) The evolution of social behavior. Annual Review of Ecological Systems 5, 325383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Amin, V. & Behrman, J. R. (2014) Do more-schooled women have fewer children and delay childbearing? Evidence from a sample of US twins. Journal of Population Economics 27, 131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, J. E., Jamieson, D. J., Warner, L., Kissin, D. M., Nangia, A. K. & Macaluso, M. (2012) Contraceptive sterilization among married adults: national data on who chooses vasectomy and tubal sterilization. Contraception 85, 552557.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Anderson, J. E., Warner, L., Jamieson, D. J., Kissin, D. M., Nangia, A. K. & Macaluso, M. (2010) Contraceptive sterilization use among married men in the United States: results from the male sample of the National Survey of Family Growth. Contraception 82(3), 230235.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Anderson, K. G. (2006) How well does paternity confidence match actual paternity? Results from worldwide nonpaternity rates. Current Anthropology 48(3), 511518.Google Scholar
Anderson, K. G. (2011) Does paying child support reduce men’s subsequent marriage and fertility? Evolution and Human Behavior 32, 9096.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, K. G. (2017) Establishment of legal paternity in unmarried American women: tradeoffs in male commitment to paternal investment. Human Nature 28(2), 168200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, K. G., Kaplan, H. & Lancaster, J. B. (1999) Paternal care by genetic fathers and stepfathers I: reports from Albuquerque Men. Evolution and Human Behavior 20, 405431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, K. G., Kaplan, H. & Lancaster, J. B. (2007) Confidence of paternity, divorce, and investment in children by Albuquerque men. Evolution and Human Behavior 28(1), 110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, K. G. & Low, B. S. (2003) Nonmarital first births and women’s life histories. In Rodgers, J. & Kohler, H. P. (eds) The Biodemography of Human Reproduction and Fertility. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, pp. 5786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, K. G. & Starkweather, K. E. (2017) Parenting strategies in modern and emerging economies. Human Nature 28(2), 133137.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Arendell, T. (1995) Fathers and Divorce. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.Google Scholar
Barone, M. A., Johnson, C. H., Luick, M. A., Teutonico, D. L. & Magnani, R. J. (2004) Characteristics of men receiving vasectomies in the United States, 1998–1999. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 36(1), 2733.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bass, L. E. & Warehime, M. N. (2009) Do health insurance and residence pattern the likelihood of tubal sterilization among American women? Population Research and Policy Review 28, 237249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Becker, G. S. (1991) A Treatise on the Family (Enlarged Edition). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
Borgerhoff Mulder, M. (1992) Reproductive decisions. In Smith E. A. & Winterhalder, B. (eds) Evolutionary Ecology and Human Behavior. Aldine de Gruyter, New York, pp. 339374.Google Scholar
Borrero, S., Abebe, K., Dehlendorf, C., Schwarz, E. B., Creinin, M. D., Nikolajski, D. & Ibrahim, S. (2011) Racial variation in tubal sterilization rates: the role of patient-level factors. Fertility and Sterility 95(1), 1722.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Borrero, S., Moore, C. G., Creinin, M. D. & Ibrahim, S. A. (2010) Low rates of vasectomy among minorities: a result of differential receipt of counseling? American Journal of Men’s Health 4(3), 243249.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Borrero, S., Moore, C. G., Qin, L., Schwarz, E. B., Akers, A., Creinin, M. D. & Ibrahim, S. A. (2009a) Unintended pregnancy influences racial disparity in tubal sterilization rates. Journal of General Internal Medicine 25(2), 122128.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Borrero, S., Schwarz, E. B., Reeves, M. F., Bost, J. E., Creinin, M. D. & Ibrahim, S. A. (2009b) Does vasectomy explain the difference in tubal sterilization rates between black and white women? Fertility and Sterility 91(5), 16421645.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Brechin, S. & Bigrigg, A. (2006) Male and female sterilisation. Current Obstetrics & Gynaecology 16, 3946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bumpass, L., Thomson, E. & Godecker, A. L. (2000) Women, men, and contraceptive sterilization. Fertility and Sterility 73(5), 937946.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cancian, M., Meyer, D. R. & Cook, S. T. (2011) The evolution of family complexity from the perspective of nonmarital children. Demography 48, 957982.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Chan, L. M. & Westhoff, C. L. (2010) Tubal sterilization trends in the United States. Fertility and Sterility 94(1), 16.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Chandra, A., Martinez, G. M., Mosher, W. D., Abma, J. C. & Jones, J. (2005) Fertility, family planning, and reproductive health of U.S. women: data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. Vital and Health Statistics 23(25), 1160.Google Scholar
Chase, I. D. (1980) Cooperative and noncooperative behavior in animals. American Naturalist 115, 827857.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cherlin, A. (2004) The deinstitutionalization of American marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family 66, 848861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cherlin, A. (2010) Demographic trends in the United States: a review of research in the 2000s. Journal of Marriage and Family 72, 403419.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Clutton-Brock, T. (1991) The Evolution of Parental Care. Princeton University Press, Princeton.Google Scholar
Coall, D., Tickner, M., McAllister, L. & Sheppard, P. (2016) Developmental influences on human fertility decisions: an evolutionary perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B 371(1692), 20150146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cohen, P. N. (2016) Maternal age and infant mortality for white, black, and Mexican mothers in the United States. Sociological Science 3, 3238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dassow, P. & Bennett, J. M. (2006) Vasectomy: an update. American Family Physician 74(12), 20692074.Google ScholarPubMed
Dehlendorf, C., Rodriguez, M. I., Levy, K., Borrero, S. & Steinauer, J. (2010) Disparities in family planning. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 202(3), 214220.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dudgeon, M. R. & Inhorn, M. C. (2004) Men’s influences on women’s reproductive health: medical anthropological perspectives. Social Science & Medicine 59, 13791395.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Eeckhaut, M. C. W. (2015) Marital status and female and male contraceptive sterilization in the United States. Fertility and Sterility 103(6), 15091515.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Eisenberg, M. L., Henderson, J. T., Amory, J. K., Smith, J. F. & Walsh, T. J. (2009) Racial differences in vasectomy utilization in the United States: data from the National Survey of Family Growth. Urology 74(5), 10201024.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Finer, L. B., Jerman, J. & Kavanaugh, M. L. (2012) Changes in use of long-acting contraceptive methods in the United States, 2007–2009. Fertility and Sterility 98(4), 893897.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Forste, R., Tanfer, K. & Tedrow, L. (1995) Sterilization among currently married men in the United States, 1991. Family Planning Perspectives 27(3), 100107, 122.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Geronimus, A. T. (1996a) Black/White differences in the relationship of maternal age to birthweight: a population-based test of the weathering hypothesis. Social Science & Medicine 42(4), 589597.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gibson-Davis, C. (2014) Magic moment? Maternal marriage for children born out of wedlock. Demography 51(4), 13451356.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Godecker, A., Thomson, E. & Bumpass, L. L. (2001) Union status, marital history and female contraceptive sterilization in the United States. Family Planning Perspectives 33(1), 3541, 49.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gray, P. & Anderson, K. G. (2010) Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
Guzzo, K. B. (2014a) New partners, more kids: multiple-partner fertility in the United States. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 654, 6686.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Guzzo, K. B. (2014b) Trends in cohabitation outcomes: compositional changes and engagement among never-married young adults. Journal of Marriage and Family 76, 826842.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Guzzo, K. B. & Hayford, S. (2011) Fertility following an unintended first birth. Demography 48, 14931516.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Guzzo, K. B. & Hayford, S. R. (2010) Single mothers, single fathers: gender differences in fertility after a nonmarital birth. Journal of Family Issues 31(7), 906933.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Harknett, K. & Knab, J. T. (2007) More kin, less support: multipartnered fertility and kin support among new mothers. Journal of Marriage and the Family 69, 237253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hawkes, K., O’Connell, J. F. & Blurton Jones, N. G. (1997) Hadza women’s time allocation, offspring provisioning, and the evolution of long postmenopausal life spans. Current Anthropology 38, 551577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hendrix, N. W., Chauhan, S. P. & Morrison, J. C. (1999) Sterilization and its consequences. Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey 54(12), 766777.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hill, E. M. & Low, B. S. (1992) Contemporary abortion patterns: a life history approach. Ethology and Sociobiology 13, 3548.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Huber, S., Bookstein, F. L. & Fieder, M. (2010) Socioeconomic status, education, and reproduction in modern women: an evolutionary perspective. American Journal of Human Biology 22(5), 578587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Johnson, D. R., McQuillan, J., Jacob, M. C., Greil, A. L., Lacy, N., Scheuble, L. K. et al. (2009) National Survey of Fertility Barriers: Methodology Report for Wave 1. National Survey of Fertility Barriers, Working Papers Series Paper 1, University of Nebraska.Google Scholar
Jones, J., Mosher, W. & Daniels, K. (2012) Current contraceptive use in the United States, 2006–2010, and changes in patterns of use since (1995). National Health Statistics Reports; No. 60. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD.Google Scholar
Kaplan, H. (1996) A theory of fertility and parental investment in traditional and modern human societies. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 39, 91135.3.0.CO;2-C>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kaplan, H., Hill, K., Lancaster, J. & Hurtado, A. M. (2000) A theory of human life history evolution: diet, intelligence, and longevity. Evolutionary Anthropology 9, 156185.3.0.CO;2-7>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kaplan, H., Lancaster, J. B., Johnson, S. E. & Bock, J. A. (1995) Does observed fertility maximize fitness among New Mexican men? A test of an optimality model and a new theory of parental investment in the embodied capital of offspring. Human Nature 6, 325360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kaplan, H., Lancaster, J., Tucker, W. T. & Anderson, K. G. (2002) Evolutionary approach to below replacement fertility. American Journal of Human Biology 14, 233256.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kramer, K. L. (2010) Cooperative breeding and its significance to the demographic success of humans. Annual Review of Anthropology 39, 417436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lam, D. (2011) How the world survived the population bomb: lessons from 50 years of extraordinary demographic history. Demography 48, 12311262.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lawson, D. W. & Mace, R. (2011) Parental investment and the optimization of human family size. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 366, 333343.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Leidy, L. E. (1999) Effect of exclusion: rates of hysterectomy and comparisons of age at natural menopause. American Journal of Human Biology 11, 687693.3.0.CO;2-2>CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lichter, D. T., Qian, Z. & Mellott, L. M. (2006) Marriage or dissolution? Union transitions among poor cohabiting women. Demography 43(2), 223240.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Low, B. S. (1978) Environmental uncertainty and the parental strategies of marsupials and placentals. American Naturalist 112, 197213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Low, B. S., Simon, C. P. & Anderson, K. G. (2002) An evolutionary ecological perspective on demographic transitions: modeling multiple currencies. American Journal of Human Biology 14, 149167.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lycett, J. E. & Dunbar, R. I. M. (1999) Abortion rates reflect the optimization of parental investment strategies. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 266, 23552358.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Manlove, J., Logan, C., Ikramullah, E. & Holcombe, E. (2008) Factors associated with multiple-partner fertility among fathers. Journal of Marriage and Family 70, 536548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martin, S. P. & Parashar, S. (2006) Women’s changing attitudes toward divorce, 1974–2002: evidence for an educational crossover. Journal of Marriage and Family 68, 2940.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martinez, G. M., Kimberly, D. & Anjani, C. (2012) Fertility of men and women aged 15–44 years in the United States: National Survey of Family Growth, 2006–2010. National Health Statistics Reports, No. 51. National Center for Health Statistics. Hyattsville, MD.Google Scholar
Maynard Smith, J. (1977) Parental investment: a prospective analysis. Animal Behavior 25, 19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Melville, C. & Bigrigg, A. (2008) Male and female sterilization. Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive Medicine 18(12), 330334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meyer, D. R. & Cancian, M. (2012) “I’m not supporting his kids”: nonresident fathers’ contributions given mothers’ new fertility. Journal of Marriage and Family 74, 132151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Monte, L. M. (2017) Multiple partner fertility research brief. Current Population Reports, P70BR-146. US Census Bureau.Google Scholar
Mosher, W. D. & Jones, J. (2010) Use of contraception in the United States: 1982–2008. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics 23(29), 144.Google Scholar
Mosher, W. D., Martinez, G. M., Chandra, A., Abma, J. C. & Willson, S. J. (2004) Use of contraception and use of family planning services in the United States, 1982–2002. Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics, No. 350. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, MD.Google Scholar
Peccei, J. S. (2001) A critique of the grandmother hypotheses: old and new. American Journal of Human Biology 13, 434452.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Penn, D. J. & Smith, K. R. (2007) Differential fitness costs of reproduction between sexes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(2), 553558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Roff, D. A. (1992) The Evolution of Life Histories. Chapman and Hall, New York.Google Scholar
Schwingl, P. J. & Guess, H. A. (2000) Safety and effectiveness of vasectomy. Fertility and Sterility 73(5), 923936.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Scott-Phillips, T. C., Dickins, T. E. & West, S. A. (2011) Evolutionary theory and the ultimate–proximate distinction in the human behavioral sciences. Perspectives on Psychological Science 6(1), 3847.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sear, R. (2015) Evolutionary contributions to the study of human fertility. Population Studies 69(supplement 1), S39S55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sear, R. & Coall, D. (2011) How much does family matter? Cooperative breeding and the demographic transition. Population and Development Review 37(s1), 81112.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Shapiro, T. M., Fisher, W. & Diana, A. (1983) Family planning and female sterilization in the United States. Social Science & Medicine 17(23), 18471855.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sharma, V., Le, B. V., Sheth, K. R., Zargaroff, S., Dupree, J. M., Cashy, J. & Brannigan, R. E. (2013) Vasectomy demographics and postvasectomy desire for future children: results from a contemporary national survey. Fertility and Sterility 99(7), 18801885.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Shih, G., Dubé, K. & Dehlendorf, C. (2013) “We never thought of a vasectomy”: a qualitative study of men and women’s counseling around sterilization. Contraception 88, 376381.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Shih, G., Turok, D. K. & Parker, W. J. (2011) Vasectomy: the other (better) form of sterilization. Contraception 83(4), 310315.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Shreffler, K. M., McQuillan, J., Greil, A. L. & Johnson, D. R. (2015) Surgical sterilization, regret, and race: contemporary patterns. Social Science Research 50, 3145.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
StataCorp. (2015) Stata Statistical Software: Release 14. StataCorp LP, College Station, TX.Google Scholar
Stearns, S. C. (1992) The Evolution of Life Histories. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
Trivers, R. L. (1972) Parental investment and sexual selection. In Campbell, B. (ed.) Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man 1871–1971. Aldine, Chicago, pp. 136179.Google Scholar
Tullberg, B. S. & Lummaa, V. (2001) Induced abortion ratio in modern Sweden falls with age, but rises again before menopause. Evolution and Human Behavior 22(1), 110.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Vining, D. R. (1986) Social versus reproductive success: the central theoretical problem of human sociobiology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 9, 167216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weiss, Y. & Willis, R. J. (1985) Children as collective goods and divorce settlements. Journal of Labor Economics 3, 268292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weiss, Y. & Willis, R. J. (1993) Transfers among divorced couples: evidence and interpretation. Journal of Labor Economics 11, 629679.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Westhoff, C. & Davis, A. (2000) Tubal sterilization: focus on the U.S. experience. Fertility and Sterility 73(5), 913922.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
White, K. & Potter, J. E. (2014) Reconsidering racial/ethnic differences in sterilization in the United States. Contraception 89(6), 550556.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
1
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

HIGH PREVALENCE OF VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION AMONG AMERICAN WOMEN EXPLAINED BY TRADE-OFFS RESULTING FROM MALE PARENTAL COMMITMENT
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

HIGH PREVALENCE OF VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION AMONG AMERICAN WOMEN EXPLAINED BY TRADE-OFFS RESULTING FROM MALE PARENTAL COMMITMENT
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

HIGH PREVALENCE OF VOLUNTARY STERILIZATION AMONG AMERICAN WOMEN EXPLAINED BY TRADE-OFFS RESULTING FROM MALE PARENTAL COMMITMENT
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *