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The Children of Teenage Mothers: Patterns of Early Childbearing in Two Generations
Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., Judith A. Levine and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
Family Planning Perspectives
Vol. 22, No. 2 (Mar. - Apr., 1990), pp. 54-61
Published by: Guttmacher Institute
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2135509
Page Count: 8
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Twenty years after a mostly black group of Baltimore women became adolescent mothers, the majority of their first-born children had not become adolescent parents, a finding that challenges the popular belief that the offspring of teenage mothers are themselves destined to become adolescent parents. Almost all of the offspring had had intercourse by age 19. About half of the young women had experienced a pregnancy before that age, and approximately one-third of the young men reported having impregnated a partner before age 19. The Baltimore youths were just as likely to have had a live birth before age 19 as were the children of teenage mothers in a national sample of urban blacks, and both of these groups were more likely to have done so than were the children of older mothers in the national sample. In the Baltimore sample, maternal welfare experience only increased a daughter's likelihood of early childbearing if welfare was received during her teenage years. Within the Baltimore sample, a direct comparison of the daughters who became adolescent mothers with their own mothers at a comparable age reveals that the daughters have bleaker educational and financial prospects than their mothers had, and are less likely to ever have married. These results suggest that today's teenage parents may be less likely than were previous cohorts of adolescent mothers to overcome the handicaps of early childbearing. This trend could portend the growth of an urban underclass, even though only a minority of the offspring of teenage mothers go on to become adolescent parents.
Family Planning Perspectives © 1990 Guttmacher Institute