Diploma Attainment Among Teen Mothers


Child Trends

This Child Trends report, based on recently released data from a national survey, addresses whether teen mothers go on to graduate from high school or earn their GED. The results are especially noteworthy because of the recent rise in the teen birth rate after 14 years of declines.

Only 51 percent of women who gave birth as teens were able to receive their high school diploma by age 22, compared with 89 percent of women who were not teen mothers. In addition, teens who gave birth before turning 18 were less likely to earn a high school diploma before age 22 than those who had children between ages 18 and 19. Only 38 percent of those who became teen mothers before age 18 received their diploma by age 22, compared with 60 percent of women who had their first child between 18 and 19.

While the younger teen mothers were more likely to have earned a GED than the older teen mothers, 43 percent of the younger group – those who were teen mothers before they were 18 – earned neither a high school diploma nor a GED by age 22.

The data showed that black teen mothers are more likely to earn a high school education by age 22 than their Hispanic or white peers.

The study points out that the findings present problems because there are decreasing numbers of jobs for those who have only a high school education.

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