Longterm Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Results from the CDS-II

Michelle Sternthal, University of Michigan

Despite the policy relevance, little consensus exists about the causal link between early childbearing and children’s health. In this article, I improve upon past research by using newly available data from the Child Development Supplement-II (CDS-II) as well as additional background controls to investigate multiple health outcomes for Black and White offspring of teenage mothers as they approach early adulthood. My measures include low birthweight, body weight, chronic health conditions, acute health conditions, and overall health. I find that Black children of teen childbearers are less likely to suffer from a chronic or acute illness and more likely to be reported in excellent health. My results suggest that teenage pregnancy may have a protective effect for highly disadvantaged populations, such as children of impoverished African American women. Policymakers should therefore redirect programs aimed at curbing teen pregnancy toward identifying and eliminating the fundamental cause of their ill health.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Children and Youth, Adolescence, Parenting, Transition to Adulthood, Life Course