Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Anthropology



Major Advisor

Kristin Snopkowski, Ph.D.


John P. Ziker, Ph.D.


Ellen J. Schafer, Ph.D.


According to life history theory, human mothers rely on assistance from others for childrearing help. Studies have shown that mothers who have insufficient support often report having unwanted or mistimed pregnancies. In turn, unwanted pregnancies may lead to reduced parental investment. This study is the first to analyze the interaction between pregnancy intention status and social support to better understand parental investment. Using data from the Millennium Cohort Study of the U.K. which includes over 18,000 respondents, this study examines how planned pregnancy and social support variables – measured as assistance from a partner, family, or friends – is associated with parental investment. Parental investment is measured using 12 different variables that encompass emotional resources and behavioral/physical investment, including prenatal care, birthweight, breastfeeding duration, vaccinations, tobacco cessation, childcare and school costs, how much time a mother spent with her child (or how often she read to her child), how emotionally close she felt to her child, and how frequently she had conversations with her child about things important to him/her. Results indicate that social support does not universally interact with intention status to predict investment, but both intention status and social support are correlated with at least some parental investment indicators. Results suggest that mothers need better access to social support or aid from abusive relationships to improve child well-being.



Included in

Anthropology Commons