Why it Matters: Teen Pregnancy. Poverty, and Income Disparity
Poverty is a cause as well as a consequence of early childbearing. In this brief, the authors highlight data suggesting that reducing teen pregnancy will help sustain the recent decreases in poverty, especially persistent child poverty. For example, two-thirds of families begun by a young unmarried mother are poor, and about a quarter of teen mothers go on welfare within 3 years of the child's birth. Teen mothers are less likely to complete the education necessary to qualify for a well-paying job. Nearly 80 percent of fathers of children born to teen mothers do not marry the mothers, and these fathers pay less than $800 annually in child support. Although disadvantaged backgrounds account for many of the burdens that young women shoulder, these authors say that having a baby during adolescence only makes matters worse. They conclude that preventing teen pregnancy is a highly effective and efficient way to reduce poverty and improve overall child and family well-being.