Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Sociology Dept.


Christel Kesler

Second Advisor

Neil Gross


In this thesis, I analyze data from 30 in-depth interviews to examine what factors impact pregnancy among young women in rural communities. Building upon previous research on rural areas, I investigate three factors that contribute to a high likelihood of childbearing in this population. Taking a multidimensional approach, I explore what the family planning desires of the young women are, how those desires are formulated, and how their sexual behavior aligns, or misaligns, with their family planning desires. I find that 1) young women who pursue pregnancy believe that it will positively impact their future, 2) those who desired young motherhood felt the most social pressure to achieve this goal and 3) incorrect sexual knowledge led to risky sexual behavior. I argue that these factors, described by the rural women themselves, highlight that public policy is overlooking a significant narrative within adolescent pregnancy, where young women are actively seeking to reach motherhood but are aware of the risks associated with their decision. By examining the desires of young women alongside their practices, we will have a better understanding of how to better support young women making family planning decisions.


rural, family planning, sex education, contraception, social networks, early pregnancy