Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing

Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine

in The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226309453
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226309477 | DOI:
Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing

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This chapter concerns the potential harm that teen childbearing imposes on the mother, the child, and potentially, to society more broadly. It highlights the fact that women who give birth as teens tend to subsequently have lower educational attainment and higher rates of welfare receipt. Public discussions have focused on a number of potential explanations: the incentives of the welfare system, poor labor market outcomes for teens, lack of access to affordable contraception, poor parental and peer influences, and socioeconomic disadvantage, among others. The chapter uses micro-level data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to provide a descriptive analysis of the relationship between socioeconomic disadvantage and early childbearing. It also aggregates Vital Statistics microdata from 1968 through 2003 to conduct a cohort-based analysis of the relationship between rates of socioeconomic disadvantage of a birth cohort and the cohort's subsequent early childbearing experiences. The results of analyses suggest that the correlation of early childbearing across generations is much stronger in the aggregate than at the individual level.

Keywords: teen childbearing; labor market; socioeconomic disadvantage; birth cohort; welfare receipt

Chapter.  12371 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Economics

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