Births to Teen Mothers

Teenage childbearing is associated with a number of social consequences and economic costs. Compared with older mothers, teen mothers are less likely to finish high school or go on to college (Hofferth, Reid, and Mott, 2001), and more likely to be dependent on welfare, especially in the first years after giving birth (Hoffman, 2008). Compared to children born to older mothers, children born to teen mothers have a greater risk of infant mortality, poorer academic and behavioral outcomes (Moore, Morrison, and Greene, 1997) and are more likely themselves to initiate sex at an early age and to have a teen birth (Manlove et al., 2001).

Programs typically collect birth history data using self-report questionnaires. Progress on this indicator can be assessed by tracking the percent of participants who report a first and/or repeat birth. Measuring rates of teen childbearing among participants over time make sense for longer-term programs which work with participants over a period of three to four years, as data on this outcome will most likely be collected annually.

If the program does not appear to be preventing or reducing births to teen mothers, program managers may want to assess problems related to program design, implementation/adaptation, and quality.


Sources Cited

Hofferth, S. L., Reid, L., & Mott, F. L. (2001). The effects of early childbearing on schooling over time. Family Planning Perspectives, 33(6), 259-267.

Hoffman, S. D. (2008). Consequences of teen childbearing for mothers: Updated estimates of the consequences of teen childbearing for mothers. In S. D. Hoffman, & R. A. Maynard (Eds.), Kids having kids: Economic costs and social consequences of teen pregnancy (2nd ed., pp. 74-92). Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.

Moore, K.A., Morrison, D.R., and Greene, A.D., (1997). Effects on the children born to adolescent mothers. In R.A Maynard, (ed). Kids having kids: Economic costs and social consequences of teen pregnancy. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute. To order visit:

Manlove, J., Terry-Humen, E., Papillo, A.R., Franzetta, K., Williams, S., and Ryan, S. (2001). Background for community-level work on positive reproductive health in adolescence: Reviewing the literature on contributing factors. Washington, DC: Child Trends.