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Adolescent Fathers in the United States: Their Initial Living Arrangements, Marital Experience and Educational Outcomes

William Marsiglio
Family Planning Perspectives
Vol. 19, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 1987), pp. 240-241+243-251
Published by: Guttmacher Institute
DOI: 10.2307/2135104
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2135104
Page Count: 11
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Adolescent Fathers in the United States: Their Initial Living Arrangements, Marital Experience and Educational Outcomes
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Abstract

Data from a nationally representative longitudinal survey show that seven percent of young males aged 20-27 in 1984 had fathered a child while they were teenagers, more than three-quarters of them nonmaritally. One-third of those who were responsible for a nonmarital conception married within 12 months of conception, and half of all of the young men lived with their child shortly after the child's birth. Overall, young black men were more likely to have been responsible for a nonmarital first birth than were males of other racial backgrounds, and only 15 percent of black teenagers lived with their first child, compared with 48 percent of Hispanics, 58 percent of disadvantaged whites and 77 percent of nondisadvantaged whites. Multivariate analyses indicated that only black or Hispanic youths and those who fathered a child at age 16 or younger were significantly less likely to have lived with their first child; those who were raised Catholic were more likely to have done so. Further analyses revealed that living in a rural area, being relatively older at the child's birth, having been raised Catholic and having lived with both parents at age 14 were associated with an above average probability that white teenage fathers would live with their child, at least initially. However, none of the variables in the model were significant for blacks. Teenage fathers, regardless of their marital status at conception or age at first birth, were much more likely to have been high school dropouts than were other male teenagers. Those with a maritally conceived child had a particularly high drop-out rate--almost 62 percent. Among teenage fathers responsible for a nonmaritally conceived first birth that occurred before they received their diploma or GED certificate or they left school for the last time, those living with their partner shortly after the child's birth were less likely to have completed high school by 1984 than were those not living with their child. However, a multivariate analysis revealed that a teenage father's living with his child shortly after birth was not significantly related to his completion of high school, while being black was positively associated. The racial difference may mean that norms or social and familial supports are more influential for young black males in minimizing the possible deleterious effects of teenage fatherhood on schooling, while so few black males lived with their child that any assessment of this question is extremely difficult. Finally, among a subsample of young males who were 14 or 15 years of age at the time of the 1979 survey and had not yet fathered a child, those who were eventually responsible for a nonmaritally conceived first birth had not completed a lower mean grade level in 1979 than had those who did not become fathers. On the other hand, those who became teenage fathers had anticipated completing significantly fewer years of schooling, and were found to have done so by the 1984 survey.

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