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Teen Pregnancy Affects Educational Achievement

High School Completion

Teen pregnancy and parenting are significant contributors to high school
drop-out rates among teen girls. Thirty percent of teenage girls who drop out
of high school cite pregnancy or parenthood as a primary reason. This rate is
even higher for Hispanic and African American teens, 36 and 38 percent,
respectively. Overall, only 40 percent of teen moms finish high school and
less than two percentof those who have a baby before age 18finish
college by age 30.
Intergenerational Impact: Children of Teen Parents
The mothers education is not the only victim of teen childbearing; children
born to teen moms often do not perform as well as children of older mothers
on early childhood development indicators and school readiness measures,
such as communication, cognition and social skills. Research shows that
children of teen mothers not only start school at a disadvantage, they also
fare worse than those born to older parents later on. For example, children
born to teens have lower educational performance, score lower on
standardized tests, and are twice as likely to repeat a grade. Additionally,
only around two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earn a high school
diploma, compared to 81 percent of children born to adults.
Older Teens & Community College
The pregnancy rate for women aged 18 to 19 is three times higher than that
of younger teens and the birth rate for older adolescents is more than three
and a half times that of their younger peers. Older teens account for nearly
500,000 pregnancies and 234,000 births each year. Nearly 25 percent of
births to women in this age group are teens who have previously given birth,
greatly increasing the challenges for these mothers and their children. With
almost 70 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds attending either high school or
college, unplanned pregnancies can disrupt or derail educational
achievement. Sixty-one percent of women who have children after enrolling
in college fail to complete their degree, a rate which is 65 percent higher than
that for students who did not have children. In addition, surveys indicate that
close to half of all community college students have been pregnant or gotten
someone pregnant at some point.

Economic Wellbeing and the Cycle of Poverty

Poverty is both a cause and a consequence of teen pregnancy and
childbearing. Two-thirds of young unmarried mothers are poor and around 25
percent go on welfare within three years of a childs birth. Low educational

attainment among teen mothers affects their economic opportunities and

earnings in later years. Teen mothers are less likely to complete high school
or college, and are therefore less likely to find well-paying jobs. This reality is
evident in the fact that over the past 20 years, the median income for college
graduates has increased 19 percent, while income among high school dropouts has decreased 28 percent.The economic consequences of dropping out
of school often contribute to the perpetual cycle of economic hardship and
poverty that spans generations.
Only around 20 percent of fathers of children born to teen mothers marry the
mothers. Therefore, child support generally represents a vital income source
for these single parent families, accounting for 23 percent of family income
among families that receive it. However, teen fathers may pay less than $800
a year in child support, compounding financial difficulties for the parent
responsible for day to day care. Teen fathers are often poor themselves;
research indicates that they are also less educated and experience earning
losses of 10-15 percent annually.

Teen Pregnancy Among Youth in Foster Care

Teen pregnancy rates are much higher among teens in foster care than
among the general population. By age 19, pregnancy rates for girls in foster
care are 2.5 times greater than that of their peers who are not in the system.
Nearly half of girls in foster care become pregnant at least once by their 19th
birthday and around 75 percent report being pregnant by age 21, compared
to only one-third of their peers. In addition, by age 21, nearly two-thirds of
teens in foster care have been pregnant more than once. Young men in foster
care also report having gotten someone pregnant at higher rates than young
men not in the system: 50 percent of men aging out of foster care at age 21
say that they have gotten someone pregnant, compared to 19 percent of
young men not in foster care.
Pregnancy among adolescents in foster care creates challenges and costs for
the system, such as providing health care and housing for teen mothers and
their children. Currently, states may provide Medicaidpublic health
insurance jointly funded by states and the federal governmentto finance
prenatal care, delivery costs, and other health care services for foster
children up to age 21. By 2014, however, the Affordable Care Act will extend
Medicaid coverage to all young people in foster care, up to age 26.
Many teens age out of the system when they reach age 18 or 21,
depending on the state. Teen parents transitioning out of foster care face
significant challenges: caring for their children, completing education and
finding employment. And the cycle often continues. The children of teen
mothers are twice as likely to be placed in foster care as their peers born to

older parents.