Socioeconomic Consequences of Early Childbearing: A Literature Review Carley D. Prentice
The present literature review seeks to investigate socioeconomic consequences of teenage childbearing. Past literature suggests that women who become teenage mothers are more likely to become socioeconomically disadvantaged than those who prolong childbearing. However research increasingly suggests that, depending on the circumstances of the women in question, socioeconomic disadvantage is correlated with but not necessarily a consequence of early childbearing. It is concluded that programs and policies aimed at reducing teen pregnancy rates and eliminating the negative consequences experienced by teen mothers and their children are unlikely to be fully effective unless they realistically address the socioeconomic inequities faced by many young women in Canada.
Past literature on teen pregnancy and childbearing are often embedded in the assumption that having a child is a main gateway in leading teen mothers toward a troubled life of socioeconomic disadvantage (Cooksey, 1990; Cote & Allahar, 1994). However, as this paper will attempt to show, many of the central issues surrounding teenage childbearing have many contributing factors to such disadvantage. This paper reviews the developing body of literature that examines the socioeconomic consequences of teen pregnancy and childbearing. Throughout this literature, researchers try to disentangle the circumstances that predispose a woman to have a teen birth from circumstances that result from teen pregnancy. Women who give birth as teenagers are shown to have many similarities, in terms of family background and education, prior to becoming pregnant. The purpose of this literature review is to better understand how socioeconomic factors are related to the incidence of teen pregnancy and how the negative consequences of teen pregnancy are linked to socioeconomic disadvantage.
This paper reviews findings from both Canadian and U.S. studies which have investigated the socioeconomic outcomes associated with teen pregnancy and childbearing. The majority of research surveyed measured the effect that teen pregnancy and parenting had on such variables as education, employment and economic status. A smaller number of studies also looked at marital patterns of teen mothers and the parenting aspect of caregiving in how such children develop. Both short and long-term studies were included, however there were far more short-term studies than long-term ones in adolescent sexuality research. The sources of data on teen pregnancy rates, education and employment included information from both Canada and the U.S., as there was limited Canadian research to complete this review. Canadian Long-Term Outcomes Studies
This section reviews two large-scale studies (Grinstaff, 1988; Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, 1991). A long-term study of Nova Scotia mothers and their children conducted by the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services (NSDCS) presented findings on the socioeconomic outcomes related to teen pregnancy and single versus married parenting. Interviews sought to measure the participants’ self perceived satisfaction with many dimensions of life including, health, finances, family relations, employment, education and marital situation. The Nova Scotia study focused on how the lives of women and children were altered depending on the age at first birth and marital status. Unmarried mothers of all ages reported most dissatisfaction with educational achievement. The data reveals that those women who were in school when they became pregnant were more likely to return to school after giving birth than those who dropped out prior to their pregnancy. The older unmarried mothers were more likely to have dropped out of school after becoming pregnant and were therefore less likely to complete their...
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