The following is from the National Campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy:
There is a general consensus among most people in the United States that teen childbearing is problematic. The vast majority of teen births are unintended and research has shown that teen mothers are more likely than other young women their age to drop out of school, live in poverty and rely on public assistance, and their children tend to grow up in economically and educationally disadvantaged households.
Research closely links teen parenthood to many negative consequences for mothers, fathers, and their children.
Teen childbearing in the United States costs taxpayers (federal, state, and local) at least $9.1 billion, according to a 2006 report by Saul Hoffman, Ph.D. and published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Most of the costs of teen childbearing are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen mothers, including increased costs for health care, foster care, and incarceration.
The Public Costs of Teen Childbearing
Teen pregnancy and birth rates in the United States have declined by about one-third since the early 1990s. Even so, early pregnancy and childbearing remain pressing concerns. About one-third of teen girls get pregnant by age 20 and there were about 420,000 births to teens in 2004.
By the Numbers: The Public Costs of Teen Childbearing presents the first analysis since 1996 of the cost to taxpayers of teen child-bearing. The new analysis by Saul Hoffman, Ph.D., published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, also provides the first-ever estimates of the cost of teen childbearing in each state and Washington, DC.
Key data from By the Numbers include:
Public Costs of Teen Childbearing:
• $9.1 billion: The cost to taxpayers (federal, state, and local) of teen childbearing in the United States in 2004 alone (for teens 19 and younger).
• $161 billion: The estimated cumulative public costs of teen childbearing between 1991 and 2004 (for teens 19 and younger).
Public Costs of Teen Childbearing by Age:
• $1,430: The average annual cost to taxpayers associated with a child born to a teen mother aged 19 and younger.
• $4,080: The average annual cost to taxpayers associated with a child born to a teen mother aged 17 and younger.
• $8.6 billion: The public costs of childbearing to teens aged 17 and younger.
Public Costs of Teen Childbearing by State:
• State-by-state analysis of the costs of teen childbearing in 2004 ranged from a high of $1 billion in Texas to a low of $12 million in Vermont.
• Visit www.teenpregnancy.org/costs for fact sheets on the costs of teen childbearing in all 50 states and Washington, DC, along with tables with data for all states and Washington, DC.
Public Cost Savings Due to Decline in Teen Birth Rate:
• $6.7 billion: Estimated national costs saved by taxpayers in 2004 alone due to the one-third decline in the teen birth rate between 1991 and 2004.
• States have realized substantial cost savings due to declines in the teen birth rate between 1991 and 2004, ranging from a high of over $1 billion in California to a low of $5 million in Wyoming.
Public Costs Associated with the Children of Teen Mothers by Cost Category:
• Most of the public sector costs of teen childbearing are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen mothers. Specific costs in 2004 include:
■ $1.9 billion in increased public sector health care costs.
■ $2.3 billion in increased child welfare costs.
■ $2.1 billion in increased costs of incarceration.
■ $2.9 billion in lost revenue due to lower taxes paid by the children of teen mothers over their own adult lifetimes as a result of lower education and earnings.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
Decreasing teen pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy
(especially among single, young adults) and increasing the
proportion of pregnancies that are wanted and welcomed
by both parents will:
• Reduce child poverty and income disparities;
• Reduce out-of-wedlock births;
• Improve overall family well-being;
• Reduce taxpayers’ burdens;
• Reduce the need for abortion;
• Help women and men better plan their futures;
• Increase educational attainment and improve the
• Reduce family turmoil and relationship conflict; and
• Help ensure healthier pregnancies, healthier babies,
enhanced child development, and healthier future generations.
Unintended birth rates vary by socioeconomic status as well, with unintended birth rates being
much higher for women below the poverty level (58 per 1,000 women) than women at or above 200% of
the poverty level in 2001 (11 per 1,000 women). Moreover, the rate of unintended births increased by 44%
among poor women but declined among women who were at or above 200% of the poverty level.
The goal of this literature review was to examine the consequences of unintended pregnancy and childbearing among young adults in rigorous studies with multivariate controls for confounding factors. We have found evidence of a significant association between unintended childbearing and a number of outcomes. Overall, the findings suggest that experiencing a birth or pregnancy that was unintended by the mother, who is most often studied, is associated with an array of negative outcomes, including delayed pre-
natal care, reduced likelihood of breastfeeding, poorer mental and physical health during childhood, poorer educational and behavioral outcomes of the child, poorer maternal mental health, lower mother-child relationship quality, and an increased risk of the mother experiencing physical violence during pregnancy.
There is also some evidence that unintended pregnancy is associated with a greater likelihood of the mother smoking while pregnant and of the child being born of a low birthweight, as well as a greater likelihood of children from unwanted pregnancies being single or divorced when they reach adulthood. Therefore, it suggests that unintended pregnancy, not just teen pregnancy, is an issue about which the general public should
We first set out to examine prenatal and perinatal outcomes. A number of studies find that women
with unintended pregnancies initiate prenatal care later than women with intended pregnancies.
The findings are not as clear on other prenatal health behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol consumption
during pregnancy. Some studies show that women are more likely to smoke while pregnant if the
pregnancy is unintended, but other studies report conflicting results. The one study identified that
examined alcohol consumption during pregnancy found no association with pregnancy intentions. While studies have found a link between pregnancy intention or attitudes and prematurity and low birth weight, recent research suggests that this operates through less healthy maternal behaviors. Additionally, mothers with unintended pregnancies are less likely to breastfeed than mothers who intended their pregnancies.
Next, we examined the risks for the children born to mothers who did not intend their pregnancies/ births. Children born of unintended pregnancies have poorer mental and physical health, less close mother- child relationships, and poorer educational and behavioral outcomes. There is also evidence that being the product of an unwanted pregnancy is associated with being single or divorced later in life.
Finally, we examined outcomes for parents and couples who experienced an unintended pregnancy. Relatively few studies examine the consequences of unintended births on the parents involved, with a particular lack of studies on fathers and the couple. However, most studies indicate that women who experience unintended births are at a greater risk of negative mental health outcomes during and after pregnancy and experiencing physical abuse while pregnant.