The significance of social context: the case of adolescent childbearing in the African American community

J Black Psychol. 1993 Nov;19(4):461-77. doi: 10.1177/00957984930194006.


PIP: The persistence of racial differences in US adolescent pregnancy and contraceptive use rates even after traditional indicators of social class (e.g., parental education, income, or occupation) are controlled suggests a need to focus on broader social contextual issues. Important dimensions of the social context neglected in traditional approaches to socioeconomic status include the level of racial discrimination in the community, the percentage of same-race high status workers, the differential incentives of Blacks and Whites to avoid adolescent childbearing, the quality of schools attended, and the ability of families to provide child supervision. In addition, studies comparing the long-term effects of adolescent childbearing have found less severe costs for Blacks than Whites. This finding suggests the salience of psychosocial factors such as individual resiliency and survival. Although amelioration of poverty must be a major emphasis of social policy aimed at preventing adolescent pregnancy, employment programs that prepare teens for low-paying or nonexistent jobs and other interventions that fail to address the broader social context of discrimination are insufficient.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent*
  • Age Factors
  • Americas
  • Black or African American*
  • Culture
  • Demography
  • Developed Countries
  • Economics
  • Ethnicity
  • Family Characteristics
  • Fertility
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • North America
  • Population
  • Population Characteristics
  • Population Dynamics
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence*
  • Prejudice*
  • Public Policy*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Problems
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • United States