Societal Costs Of Adolescent Parenting
In the United States, and most other countries too, adolescent mothers have a high probability of raising their children in poverty and relying on public assistance. More than one-half of all U.S. adolescent mothers and about three-fourths of all unmarried adolescent mothers receive welfare support (Moore et al. 1993). Whereas they represent only a minority of all welfare cases, 53 percent of welfare funding is to families formed by adolescent births (Alan Guttmacher Institute 1994). Also, adolescent mothers are most likely to have long careers on public assistance, as more than 40 percent report living in poverty at age twenty-seven.
Although the children of adolescent mothers visit medical providers less frequently and have lower total medical expenses, more of their expenses are paid by others than is true among children of older mothers. Estimates suggest that the expenses paid by others would decrease by nearly half if adolescent mothers postponed childbearing until at least age twenty-two (Maynard 1997). Overall, best estimates indicate that adolescent childbearing coupled with the other disadvantages faced by adolescent mothers costs U.S. taxpayers a total of $13 to $19 billion annually.
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