Kids Having Kids: Economic Costs and Social Consequences of Teen Pregnancy

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Edited by Saul D. Hoffman and Rebecca A. Maynard

The Urban Institute Press
448 pages. $34.50 paperback.

Despite a 36 percent drop between 1991 and 2004, the U.S. still has the industrial world’s highest teen pregnancy and birth rates. Each year, 7.5 percent of American girls 15 to 19 years old become pregnant, resulting in 422,000 births.

This second edition of Kids Having Kids follows the groundbreaking 1997 analysis of how teen childbearing affects mothers, fathers, children and society. To update findings through the middle of this decade and explore the impact of delaying childbearing until the early 20s, editors Saul D. Hoffman, a professor of economics, and Rebecca A. Maynard, a professor of education and social policy, join 18 other experts.

Children struggle more than their teen mothers or fathers, according to this study. In 2005 data from Illinois, which links birth records to child welfare reports, teen mothers were twice as likely to be reported for abuse or neglect or to have a child in foster care as mothers who were 20 or 21. A 2002 U.S. study shows that 14 percent of sons of teen mothers have been in prison by their late 30s, compared with 6 percent of sons of 20- to 21-year-old mothers. Another 2002 study finds that daughters of teen mothers are likely to become teen mothers themselves; a daughter’s risk of teen motherhood falls by nearly 60 percent if she is born to a mother in her early 20s.

In a new evaluation of pregnancy prevention programs, the authors found that intensive, multi-component youth development programs for high-risk adolescents show the most promise of reducing pregnancy. However, programs vary so greatly that more evaluation is needed.

Costs of teen parenthood fall most heavily on society. If all teen mothers delayed childbirth until their 20s, nearly $28 billion would be saved in social program costs. (800) 537-5487,