NIH GUIDE, Volume 21, Number 9, March 6, 1992

PA NUMBER:  PA-92-49

P.T. 34


  Human Reproduction/Fertility 


  Behavioral/Social Studies/Service 

  Disease Model 

National Institute for Child Health and Human Development


The National Institute for Child Health and Human Development invites

applications for demographic and behavioral research on fertility, the

proximate determinants of fertility, and the causes and consequences of

fertility-related behaviors.


The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health

promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000,"

a PHS-led national activity for setting priority areas.  This PA,

Research on Fertility and Fertility-Related Behavior, is related to the

priority areas of family planning and sexually transmitted diseases.

Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2000" (Full

Report:  Stock No. 017-001-00474-0) or "Healthy People 2000 (Summary

Report:  Stock No. 017-001-00473-1) through the Superintendent of

Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9325

(telephone 202-783-3238).


Applications may be submitted by foreign and domestic, for-profit and

non-profit organizations, public and private, such as universities,

colleges, hospitals, private research firms, units of State and local

governments, and eligible agencies of the Federal Government.

Applications from minority individuals and women are encouraged.

Applicants for First Independent Research Support and Transition

(FIRST) Awards (R29) must meet specific eligibility requirements.  In

addition, foreign applicants are not eligible for the FIRST Award.


Mechanisms available for the support of this program include

research project grants (R01), and the FIRST Award (R29).



This announcement invites behavioral and demographic research on

fertility, the proximate determinants of fertility, and the causes and

consequences of fertility-related behaviors.  The goal is to extend the

understanding of fertility and fertility-related behaviors in two

important ways:  first, by explaining recent developments in fertility

and their relationships to other social changes; and second, by

developing and testing new and expanded models at either the individual

or aggregate level to explain variation in fertility and related

behaviors.  In many instances, the success of this research may depend

on the development of new theoretical approaches and/or the development

of improved and innovative methods for measuring fertility-related

behaviors and the processes that influence them.


Research on the causes and consequences of fertility behavior has

occupied demographers since population science emerged as a field of

study.  During the twentieth century this field has encompassed simple

descriptions of population levels, trends and differentials in

fertility as well as the development of complex causal models

explaining individual fertility behavior.  In the past decade, research

on fertility has been shaped by several factors, including trends in

fertility rates, a changing societal context for childbearing, and the

development of data and statistical tools for testing interdisciplinary

and multilevel models.  During the 1980s, fertility rates remained

stable throughout most of the developed world and declined to varying

degrees in the developing countries.  At the very end of the decade,

however, U.S. fertility showed signs of a renewed upturn, particularly

at the younger and older ages.  Recent decades have witnessed a

dramatic increase in the proportion of all births that occur out of

wedlock, from 5 percent in 1960 to 27 percent in 1989.  This change has

paralleled delays in the age of first marriage and increases in female

labor force participation.  Scientists' ability to develop empirical

models of the complex factors affecting fertility was greatly enhanced

by developments in statistics, computer technology, and a proliferation

of longitudinal and cross-sectional data sets.  However, data

limitations still hamper the integration and extension of much existing


Research Sought

Research applications submitted in response to this announcement may

focus on any aspect of human fertility and may be grounded within a

broad range of disciplinary frameworks.  These may include but are not

limited to sociology, economics, psychology, anthropology, biology, and

public health.  Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged. Research

on fertility may address any relevant aspect, including but not limited

to levels (numbers of births and fertility rates), birth timing, wanted

and unwanted childbearing, childbearing in and out of wedlock, and

variability in these factors within and across populations. The

proximate determinants of fertility include contraceptive practice,

union formation and sexual activity, fecundity, and pregnancy outcomes.

The following topics have been highlighted as promising areas for

research (but applications for grants to support research on other

aspects of fertility are welcome):

a.  In the U. S. and other developed countries, sexual activity and

childbearing have become increasingly disconnected from legal marriage.

Trends in premarital sexual activity, cohabitation and non-marital

childbearing have been well documented, but their causes and, to a

lesser extent, their implications are poorly understood.  What

underlies the early sexual involvement of many young people and the

choice of non-marital childbearing by increasing proportions of young

adults?  What factors contribute to the postponement of sexual activity

and the choice and maintenance of a stable union as a context for child

rearing?  Research is needed to examine the impact of economic and

social factors in shaping alternative strategies for childbearing and

child rearing and the family and contextual processes that shape norms

and values about sexual and reproductive behavior.  Further research is

also needed on the implications of current trends for children, adults,

and society.

b.  Lack of information on male behaviors related to family formation

creates a significant gap in fertility research.  Research on the

determinants and consequences of male fertility and fertility-related

behaviors is needed to complement knowledge gained from research

focused on women alone.  Research focusing on the couple as the

relevant unit in fertility analysis is also encouraged.  In order to

advance our understanding in this area, scientists are encouraged to

develop innovative methods of obtaining non-biased samples, and samples

that capture unmarried as well as married couples.

c.  Research is needed on the relationship between parenthood and other

familial and nonfamilial roles.  Specific topics include the

interrelation between processes of role choice, change, and

accommodation and fertility,  and factors, such as child care and

flexibility in the workplace, that ease or exacerbate role conflict.

We encourage development of new approaches to capturing the dynamic

aspects of entries to and exits from different adult roles, to

understanding the factors contributing to variability in life course

trajectories, and to accounting for selection processes in examining

the consequences of different trajectories for fertility behavior and

other life domains.

d.  The influence of context on fertility and fertility related

behavior requires further study.  Both normative and structural aspects

of context may influence fertility.  Context may be variously

interpreted to mean geographical context (the community, place of

residence or work), social contexts (such as the family, sexual

partnership, peer group), or institutional contexts (the church,

workplace or school).  Policy-relevant variables and program inputs may

also be viewed as contextual factors.  Innovative research designs for

capturing contextual effects and accounting for the effects of choice

of context are needed to advance research on this topic.

e.  Research is needed on the determinants of both short term and long

term trends in fertility.  A variety of explanations have been advanced

to account for short run variations in fertility levels in the

developed world, but none have received consistent support.  Further

work is needed to improve our understanding of the interrelations

between fertility and social and economic trends.  Our perspective on

the causes of long-run trends may be improved by examining the

interrelationships between family and institutional change and

fertility decline in a variety of settings.  Recent advances in

economic growth theory have suggested a connection between fertility

and economic growth that is modulated by human capital and

institutional factors.  Empirical testing of these relationships is


f.  Extension of existing research on the factors accounting for the

continuing high rate of unintended pregnancy is encouraged.  Topics of

current interest include how characteristics of couples and partners

affect contraceptive practice; how sexual behavior and contraception

contribute to defining, and are themselves shaped by, the nature and

meaning of relationships; the impact of concerns about sexually

transmitted disease on sexual and contraceptive decision-making; the

determinants of consistent and accurate method use; structural factors

affecting access to contraceptive methods and/or motivation to avoid

pregnancy; and issues related to measuring the "intendedness" of a


g.  Research on the outcomes of unintended pregnancy is also

encouraged.  Relevant topics include the determinants and consequences

of giving birth, of parenting versus relinquishing for adoption, and of

marriage and alternative family living arrangements.  Innovative means

must be devised to avoid biased samples in designing this research.

h.  Motivational factors in fertility decision-making, the determinants

of fertility motivation and desires, and the process through which

individual motivations are translated into couple fertility decisions

also deserve study.  Relevant motivational factors may include not only

those directly related to childbearing but also those related to other

adult behaviors such as union formation and nonfamilial roles and

aspirations.  Advances in developing measures that capture multiple

dimensions of motivation, that distinguish motivation to become a

parent from motivation to prevent pregnancy or birth, and that may be

appropriately applied to both men and women need further development,

particularly among minority and low income populations.

i.  We encourage the extension of biosocial models of fertility and

fertility-related behaviors.  Existing research in this area has

documented the utility of models that incorporate biological, and

social, psychological, and economic variables.  These models have been

employed primarily for studying adolescents and may fruitfully be

extended to adult behaviors and to the investigation of the

intergenerational transmission of behavioral patterns.

Data Sources

Analysis of existing data is cost-efficient and is strongly encouraged

whenever scientific goals can be met.  Many data sets relevant to the

analysis of fertility and fertility related behaviors are publicly

available.  Among those relating to the U.S. population are the

National Surveys of Family Growth (and predecessors such as the

National Fertility Surveys and the Growth of American Families

Studies); the National Longitudinal Surveys, Youth Cohort and Child

Supplement; the National Survey of Families and Households; the

National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972; High

School and Beyond; National Education Longitudinal Study; data from the

Decennial Census and Current Population Survey (June supplements);

Vital Statistics data; the Panel Study of Income Dynamics; and the

Survey of Income and Program Participation.  Other relevant data sets

may be obtained through The Data Archive on Adolescent Pregnancy and

Pregnancy Prevention and the American Family Data Archive.  Applicants

are encouraged to contact program staff to discuss potential data


New data collection may be necessary whenever existing data resources

are not appropriate to the scientific aims of the study.  In many

cases, methodological components to research may be appropriate for

developing improved measures and measurement techniques.  If new data

collection is proposed, applicants are encouraged to design protocols

and samples that are efficiently tailored to the scientific needs of

the project.  Scientific sampling procedures are highly desirable to

ensure that sample biases do not undercut scientific objectives, but

the size and scope of samples may legitimately be limited in a manner

consistent with study objectives.  Applicants proposing new data

collection are encouraged to make their data available for use by other

researchers, and should indicate plans for accomplishing this in the



Research may focus on U.S. and other developed world populations and

subgroups thereof, and on developing settings, as appropriate to the

scientific questions being examined. Cross-cultural comparisons may be

appropriate to specific scientific objectives.




NIH and ADAMHA policy is that applicants for NIH/ADAMHA clinical

research grants and cooperative agreements are required to include

minorities and women in study populations so that research findings can

be of benefit to all persons at risk of the disease, disorder or

condition under study; special emphasis must be placed on the need for

inclusion of minorities and women in studies of diseases, disorders,

and conditions which disproportionately affect them.  This policy is

intended to apply to males and females of all ages. If women or

minorities are excluded or inadequately represented in clinical

research, particularly in proposed population-based studies, a clear

compelling rationale must be provided.

The composition of the proposed study population must be described in

terms of gender and racial/ethnic group.  In addition, gender and

racial/ethnic issues should be addressed in developing a research

design and sample size appropriate for the scientific objectives of the

study.  This information must be included in the form PHS 398 in

Section 2, A-D of the Research Plan AND summarized in Section 2, E,

Human Subjects.  Applicants/offerers are urged to assess carefully the

feasibility of including the broadest possible representation of

minority groups.  However, NIH recognizes that it may not be feasible

or appropriate in all research projects to include representation of

the full array of United States racial/ethnic minority populations

(i.e., Native Americans (including American Indians or Alaskan

Natives), Asian/Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Hispanics).  The rationale

for studies on single minority population groups must be provided.

For the purpose of this policy, clinical research is defined as human

biomedical and behavioral studies of etiology, epidemiology, prevention

(and preventive strategies), diagnosis, or treatment of diseases,

disorders or conditions, including but not limited to clinical trials.

The usual NIH policies concerning research on human subjects also

apply.  Basic research or clinical studies in which human tissues

cannot be identified or linked to individuals are excluded.  However,

every effort should be made to include human tissues from women and

racial/ethnic minorities when it is important to apply the results of

the study broadly, and this should be addressed by applicants.

For foreign awards, the policy on inclusion of women applies fully;

since the definition of minority differs in other countries, the

applicant must discuss the relevance of research involving foreign

population groups to the United States' populations, including


If the required information is not contained within the application,

the review will be deferred until the information is provided.

Peer reviewers will address specifically whether the research plan in

the application conforms to these policies.  If the representation of

women or minorities in a study design is inadequate to answer the

scientific question(s) addressed AND the justification for the selected

study population is inadequate, it will be considered a scientific

weakness or deficiency in the study design and will be reflected in

assigning the priority score to the application.

All applications for clinical research submitted to NIH are required to

address these policies.  NIH funding components will not award grants

to cooperative agreements that do not comply with these policies.


Applications are to be submitted on the grant application form PHS 398

(rev. 9/91) and will be accepted at the standard application deadlines

as indicated in the application kit.

Application kits are available at most institutional business offices

and may be obtained from the Office of Grants Inquiries, Division of

Research Grants, National Institutes of Health, Westwood Building, Room

449, Bethesda, MD 20892, telephone 301/496-7441.  The title and number

of the announcement must be typed in Section 2 on the face page of the


The completed original application and five legible copies must be sent

or delivered to:

Division of Research Grants

National Institutes of Health

Westwood Building, Room 240

Bethesda, MD  20892**


Applications will be assigned on the basis of established Public Health

Service referral guidelines.  Applications will be reviewed for

scientific and technical merit by study sections of the Division of

Research Grants, NIH, in accordance with the standard NIH peer review

procedures.  Following scientific-technical review, the applications

will receive a second-level review by the appropriate national advisory



Applications will compete for available funds with all other approved

applications assigned to that ICD.  The following will be considered in

making funding decisions:

o  Quality of the proposed project as determined by peer review;

o  Availability of funds

o  Program balance


Written and telephone inquiries are encouraged.  The opportunity to

clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants is welcome.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Christine A. Bachrach, Ph.D.

Center for Population Research

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Executive Plaza North, Room 611

6130 Executive Boulevard

Bethesda, MD  20892

Telephone:  (301) 496-1174

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Melinda B. Nelson

Office of Grants and Contracts

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Executive Plaza North, Room 505

6130 Executive Boulevard

Bethesda, MD  20892

Telephone:  (301) 496-5481


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

No. 93.864, Population Research.  Awards are made under authorization

of the Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Part A (Public Law 78-410,

as amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 USC 241 and 285) and administered

under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR

Part 74.  This program is not subject to the intergovernmental review

requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review.


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