Destinies of the Disadvantaged
The Politics of Teen Childbearing
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Title Page, Copyright
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About the Author
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THIS VOLUME IS the final in a trilogy of books on the Baltimore Study, a project launched in the mid-1960s when I began to follow a cohort of teen mothers who were interviewed during pregnancy and six subsequent times over the next thirty years. Over the last four decades, I have seen the issue of teenage childbearing go from near social invisibility to garner greater and greater national...
1. The History of Teenage Childbearing as a Social Problem
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A CENTURY FROM NOW, social and demographic historians may be pondering the question of why the topic of teenage childbearing suddenly became so prominent in America during the last several decades of the twentieth century. The issue emerged from social invisibility during the 1950s and early 1960s, when rates of childbearing among teens reached historical peaks, and rose to a...
2. From Teenage Mother to Midlife Matriarch
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WHEN ARTHUR CAMPBELL (1968) wrote his scenario of the life course of teenage mothers in 1968, quoted in the previous chapter, only scant evidence existed on the social and economic consequences of teenage childbearing. Campbell was largely surmising the adverse effects of having a child early in life based on cross-sectional comparisons of women whose first birth occurred in...
3. The Next Generation
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THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER reviewed the evidence calling into question just how much teenage childbearing compromises the life prospects of young mothers in later life. I concluded that popular accounts in the media, the views often expressed by advocates, and even professional writings overstate the costs to young mothers when taking fuller measure of their circumstances prior to parenthood....
4. Sexuality and Reproductive Health
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IN THE EARLIER chapters of this book, I assembled evidence showing that teenage childbearing has never been quite the problem that most Americans believe it to be. For a host of reasons, the issue has assumed greater political importance and cultural significance than has ever been warranted by either demographic trends or the impact on young mothers and their offspring. Rather than being a primary...
5. Supporting Marriage
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AT THE BEGINNING of the Baltimore Study, public concern about the decline of marriage was not yet on the political agenda. Most young adults in the United States still married at ages that by present-day standards seem shockingly young. In 1965 the median age of marriage had already started its upward trend but still stood at 20.6 for women and 22.8 for men. Close to 40 percent of...
6. Teenage Childbearing and Welfare Reform
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SOON AFTER RWANDA Powers discovered she was pregnant, she applied for and received public assistance to help support her child while she finished school. Although the father of the baby was in jail, Rwanda explained to the interviewer, Mrs. Blau, that they were planning to marry as soon as he was released. That did not happen. A year after her first child was born, Rwanda was pregnant...
7. Destinies of the Disadvantaged
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THE EARLY CHAPTERS of this book describe the experiences of the teenage mothers in Baltimore and their families, whose lives I followed for more than three decades. Their experiences reveal a surprising fact: early childbearing, which most policymakers believe to be a powerful source of disadvantage to young mothers, had only modest effects on their prospects in later life, after taking into account their circumstances prior to becoming pregnant. This finding...
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Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2007