About 64 percent of children born to an unmarried teenage high-school dropout live in poverty, compared to 7 percent of children born to women over age 20 who are married and high school graduates (3). A child born to a teenage mother is 50 percent more likely to repeat a grade in school and is more likely to perform poorly on standardized tests and drop out before finishing high school (3).
The negative effects on the cognitive development of children born to
adolescent mothers are evident. A study of children ages four to 14 showed
that those born to the youngest teen mothers performed more poorly on tests
of cognitive ability, were more likely to be retained a grade, and were less
likely to be perceived by their teachers as performing favorably by the time
they reached high school.
Children of adolescent mothers are more likely to drop out of high school
when compared to the children of mothers age 20-21. Only 77% of children
born to adolescent mothers complete high school by early adulthood
compared to 89% of the comparison group.
One researcher looked at the incarceration rates of the sons of young
mothers. His findings revealed that 10.3% of those born to mothers age 17
and younger were incarcerated, compared to 3.8% of the sons born to older
mothers. That is, the sons of young teen mothers are nearly three times more
likely to be incarcerated than those born to adult mothers.
When compared to women born to mothers aged 20-21, the daughters of
adolescent mothers are significantly more likely to give birth themselves
before the age of 18. An analysis of the National Longitudinal Survey of
Youth data demonstrated that early childbearing is much more common
among the daughters of adolescent mothers. In addition, daughters of
adolescent mothers are more susceptible than their mothers to economic
dependence and less likely to escape poverty.
Children born to teen mothers often do not have an even start in life. They
are more likely to grow up in a poor and mother-only family, to live in a
poor or underclass neighborhood, and to experience high risks to both their
health status and potential school achievement.
A child born to a teenage mother is also seen to be at a disadvantage in society. Newborns of teen mothers tend to have a lower birth weight. As they get older, they are more likely to do poorly in school and have a greater chance of experiencing abuse and neglect. It has been found that sons of teenage mothers are more likely to wind up in prison. Daughters of teen mothers have an increased risk of experiencing a teenage pregnancy themselves.
Teenage mothers and fathers tend to have less education and are more likely to live in poverty than their peers who are not teen parents. Babies born to teen mothers are more likely to have health problems at birth, do poorly in school, do time in jail and also become teen parents.
Teen mothers are less likely to complete high school, (only one-third receive a high school diploma)7 and more likely to end up on welfare (nearly 80 percent of unmarried teen mothers end up on welfare).8
The children of teenage mothers have lower birth weights9, are more likely to perform poorly in school10, and are at greater risk of abuse and neglect.11
The sons of teen mothers are 13 percent more likely to end up in prison while teen daughters are 22 percent more likely to become teen mothers themselves.12
Maynard, R.A., (Ed.). (1996). Kids Having Kids: A Robin Hood Foundation Special Report on the Costs of Adolescent Childbearing, New York: Robin Hood Foundation.
George, R.M., & Lee, B.J. (1997). Abuse and Neglect of Children. In R.A. Maynard (Ed.), Kids Having Kids: Economic Costs and Social Consequences of Teen Pregnancy (pp. 205-230). Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.
Maynard, R.A. (Ed.). (1996). Kids Having Kids: A Robin Hood Foundation Special Report On the Costs of Adolescent Childbearing. New York: Robin Hood Foundation. See also Haveman, R.H., Wolfe, B., & Peterson, E. (1997). Children of Early Childbearers as Young Adults. In R.A. Maynard (Ed.), Kids Having Kids: Economic Costs and Social Consequences of Teen Pregnancy (pp. 257-284). Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.
Moore, K.A., Driscoll, A.K., & Lindberg, L.D. (1998). A Statistical Portrait of Adolescent Sex, Contraception, and Childbearing. Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.