Adolescent parenthood, economic issues, and social policies

J Fam Econ Issues. Winter 1992;13(4):467-75. doi: 10.1007/BF01018927.


PIP: Economic disadvantage and limited opportunities have been viewed as fundamental causes of adolescent pregnancy and childbearing. Adolescents who become pregnant and bear children, however, often suffer adverse social and economic consequences. Much of the economic burden of raising these children falls upon extended family members and the public sector. Socioeconomic disadvantage is thus a cause and a consequence of adolescent pregnancy and childbearing, with women who become mothers as teenagers at greater risk of social and economic disadvantage throughout their lives than those who delay childbearing until their twenties. They are less likely to complete their education, to be employed, to earn high wages, and to be happily married. These women are also more likely to have larger families and to receive welfare. The author reviews and summarizes recent research and revisionist debates on these issues, and considers the implications for social policy. Emphasis is given to prevention approaches which build upon postponing adolescent sexual intercourse and helping sexually active teens avoid pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent*
  • Age Factors
  • Demography
  • Economics
  • Family Characteristics
  • Family Relations
  • Fertility
  • Parents*
  • Population
  • Population Characteristics
  • Population Dynamics
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence*
  • Public Policy*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Socioeconomic Factors*