Changes in individual and contextual socio-economic level influence on reproductive behavior in Spanish women in the MCC-Spain study

BMC Womens Health. 2020 Apr 15;20(1):72. doi: 10.1186/s12905-020-00936-4.


Background: The association between socioeconomic level and reproductive factors has been widely studied. For example, it is well known that women with lower socioeconomic status (SES) tend to have more children, the age at first-born being earlier. However, less is known about to what extent the great socioeconomic changes occurred in a country (Spain) could modify women reproductive factors. The main purpose of this article is to analyze the influence of individual and contextual socioeconomic levels on reproductive factors in Spanish women, and to explore whether this influence has changed over the last decades.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional design using data from 2038 women recruited as population-based controls in an MCC-Spain case-control study.

Results: Higher parent's economic level, education level, occupational level and lower urban vulnerability were associated with higher age at first delivery and lower number of pregnancies. These associations were stronger for women born after 1950: women with unfinished primary education had their first delivery 6 years before women with high education if they were born after 1950 (23.4 vs. 29.8 years) but only 3 years before if they were born before 1950 (25.7 vs. 28.0 years). For women born after 1950, the number of pregnancies dropped from 2.1 (unfinished primary school) to 1.7 (high education), whereas it remained almost unchanged in women born before 1950.

Conclusions: Reproductive behavior was associated with both individual and area-level socio-economic indicators. Such association was stronger for women born after 1950 regarding age at first delivery and number of pregnancies and for women born before 1950 regarding consumption of hormonal contraceptives or postmenopausal therapy.

Keywords: Abortions; Breastfeeding; Contextual socioeconomic; Educational level; Hormonal therapy; Occupation; Pregnancies; Urban vulnerability index.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive Behavior / ethnology*
  • Reproductive Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Spain / epidemiology