NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Study Finds Teen Mothers Do Well

November 10, 1999

A trio of researchers have conducted a study on how successful teen mothers become. Their conclusions stand previous research on its head.

Joseph Hotz of the University of California - Los Angeles, Susan Williams McElroy of Carnegie Mellon University, and Seth Sanders of the University of Maryland departed from previous procedures by comparing teen women who have babies with teenagers who become pregnant then miscarry. Prior studies compared the former with teens who don't become pregnant at all.

The researchers believe the new comparison weeds out irrelevant variants -- such as economic and educational levels.

  • They found that while having a baby does lower a woman's odds of finishing high school, it raises the odds she will obtain a high school equivalency diploma.
  • Women who have babies as teens spend more hours in the work force -- an average of 2,600 hours more between the birth of their first child and age 28.
  • By age 28, teen mothers earn an average of $9,800 a year more than women who delay childbearing into adulthood.
  • The authors also report that women who bear babies as teens do not collect more from welfare -- collecting more shortly after giving birth, but less several years later.

They found that teen childbearing lowers participation in Aid to Families with Dependent Children by 4 percentage points, lowers food stamp participation by 15 percentage points and lowers the poverty rate by 14 percentage points, when the mother reaches age 28.

Source: Macroscope, "Pregnant Issues," Investor's Business Daily, November 10, 1999.


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