Teenage Pregnancy Essay Research Paper Teenage pregnancy

Teenage Pregnancy Essay, Research Paper

Teenage gestation and out-of-wedlock childbirth were cardinal issues in the argument over public assistance reform. They are often seen as both the cause of increased public assistance costs and caseloads over the last 25 old ages, and the consequence of the public assistance system itself.

Out-of-wedlock births among adolescents have increased dramatically in the last several decennaries and now account for about 70 % of all adolescent births. Yet, tendencies in adolescent sexual activity and childbearing reflect broader tendencies in sexual and generative behaviour among adult females of all ages and income degrees. Women age 20 and older, for illustration, history for more than three-fourthss of the unintended gestations and abortions that occur each twelvemonth in the United States. Furthermore, despite the crisp addition in adolescent out-of-wedlock births, the addition has been even greater among older adult females. As a consequence, adolescents account for a much smaller proportion of out-of-wedlock births today than they did in the 1970s.

Contrary to what I antecedently thought, merely 5 % of female parents on public assistance are adolescents, and merely 1 % , or about 32,000, are under age 18. However, a big proportion of adult females who begin childbearing as adolescents finally end up on public assistance, and those who do be given to necessitate aid for a long period of clip.

Proposals have been based on two basic premises: that hapless, single adolescents intentionally get pregnant and have babes in order to roll up public assistance and put up their ain families ; and that a prohibition on benefits will, in and of itself, deter out-of-wedlock births. Through the research I? ve done I found that the great bulk of hapless adolescents use preventives to forestall gestation, and that most births to hapless striplings are unintended. It besides suggests that most adult females, including adolescents, would prefer to give birth once they are married.

This paper examines adolescent sexual and generative behaviour, in add-on to identify behavior differences among striplings of changing income degrees. It explores the extent to which teenage female parents depend on public assistance and whether public assistance receivers who gave birth as adolescents differ significantly on certain socioeconomic indexs from those who were non adolescent female parents. It besides considers whether current proposals to cut down teenage gestations and out-of-wedlock births among immature adult females on or at hazard of public assistance are likely to accomplish.

Adolescents and Sexual activity

Sexual intercourse during the teenage old ages has become the norm in the United States. While intercourse among really immature adolescents is still comparatively rare more than 8 in 10 striplings have had intercourse by the clip they turn 20. As sex has become more common at younger ages, historic differences in sexual activity among adolescents of different races, income degrees and faiths have decreased. For illustration, while 60 % of hapless adult females aged 15-19 are sexually experient, so are 53 % of low-income striplings and 50 % of higher income adolescents.

Contraceptive Use and Pregnancy

Most adolescents can and make utilize contraceptive method to avoid sexually transmitted diseases ( STDs ) and unintended pregnancies-even the first clip they have intercourse. About 60 % of hapless and low-income teenage adult females and about three-fourthss of higher income adolescent adult females use some method of contraception-usually the condom-the first clip they have sex.

Although their prophylactic usage is non perfect, adolescents use preventives every bit efficaciously as immature, single grownups. Adolescent adult females, in fact, are less likely to see a prophylactic failure than single method users in their early 20s. At all ages, nevertheless, higher income adult females use preventives more successfully than lower income adult females. Poor and low-income adolescents, for illustration, are twice every bit likely as higher income striplings to hold an unplanned gestation while utilizing the pill or the rubber.

Adolescents who become pregnant seldom place a kid for acceptance ; alternatively, they have an abortion or give birth and raise the kid themselves. About half of gestations to adolescent adult females stop in birth, somewhat over a 3rd in abortion and the remainder in abortion. Since the late eightiess, the proportion of teenage gestations stoping in birth instead than abortion has risen. I would believe that the addition may reflect the greater credence of out-of-wedlock births every bit good as the federal authorities & # 8217 ; s policy of widening Medicaid coverage to prenatal attention and bringing services but non abortion.

Adolescent Childbearing

While sexual activity among adolescents of all income degrees is now common, holding a babe is non. Adolescent childbirth is to a great extent concentrated among hapless and low-income adolescents, most of whom are single.

About three-fourthss of higher income adolescents who become pregnant have abortions ; they choose to prorogue childbearing so they can finish their instruction, acquire a good occupation, set up their fiscal independency and acquire married before they start a household. Poor and low-income adolescents, whose chances for a good instruction, a nice occupation and matrimony are subdued or nonexistent, frequently have small inducement to detain childbearing. As a effect, disadvantaged immature adult females frequently continue unplanned gestations to term and raise the kids themselves.

Teenage Mothers and Welfare

AFDC, or Aid to Families with Dependent Children, is the state & # 8217 ; s chief public assistance plan. It provides hard currency aid for destitute households. Between 1970-1993, the figure of households on AFDC increased 163 % , from 2 million to about 5 million, while benefit outgos rose merely 44 % , from $ 15.5 billion to $ 22.3 billion. During that period, the mean monthly AFDC benefit per household declined 45 % , from $ 676 to $ 373

In 1993, 3.8 million female parents aged 15-44 were AFDC receivers. Fifty-five per centum of these adult females became female parents when they were adolescents. However, merely 191,000, or 5 % , were current teenage female parents, and most of these-159,000-were elderly 18-19 ; immature adolescents, those aged 15-17, accounted for merely 32,000 of all female parents on AFDC. The staying 50 % were adult females aged 20-44 who had their first kid as a adolescent: 26 % of these adult females were under age 18 when they foremost gave birth, and 24 % were age 18-19 when their first kid was born.

Long-run Dependence

It is a sad world that single adult females who begin childbearing in their teenage old ages really frequently end up on public assistance. Harmonizing to informations collected between the late seventiess and mid-1980s, three-fourthss of single adolescent female parents began having public assistance within five old ages of the birth of their first kid. Marriage is no warrant against public assistance, nevertheless, 25 % of teenage female parents who were married when they gave birth besides went on public assistance within five old ages.

Womans who choose

to give birth as adolescents are among the poorest AFDC receivers: 53 % of current and former teenage female parents on AFDC in 1992 had incomes below 50 % of the poorness line, compared with 41 % of adult females who did non give birth as adolescents. In portion, their poorness reflects the fact that current and former teenage female parents are less likely than others to have any fiscal support from their child’s male parent because they were ne’er married. And, although current and former teenage female parents on AFDC are every bit likely to work as adult females who did non hold a babe as a adolescent they earned an norm of $ 1,600 less in 1992. Their lower net incomes resulted from a deficiency of instruction in 1992, 47 % of current and former teenage female parents on AFDC had graduated from high school, compared with 62 % of those who were older when they gave birth.

Womans on AFDC who began childbearing, as adolescents are more likely to hold big households than adult females who waited until they were at least age 20 to hold a babe. Eighteen per centum of adult females who had their first kid as a adolescent have four or more children-twice the proportion among adult females who did non give birth as a adolescent.

Because they tend to hold less instruction and larger households, teenage female parents frequently have a harder clip working their manner off of public assistance and going self-sufficing. As a effect, they are disproportionately represented among those receivers who remain on AFDC for long periods of clip.

Social welfare Reform

The most popular proposals during the public assistance reform procedure are as follows ;

– A denial of AFDC benefits to single teenage female parents under age 18, possibly with a province option to widen the prohibition to even older unwed female parents ;

– A prohibition on extra benefits for adult females who have a kid while on public assistance ; and

– A resurgence of the & # 8220 ; joke regulation & # 8221 ; through a prohibition on the usage of public assistance financess to supply abortion information and guidance every bit good as services.

I feel that the ability to do determinations about whether and when to hold a kid is an indispensable requirement to taking charge of one & # 8217 ; s life. Yet, mostly losing from the public argument on public assistance reform is an recognition of this fact and of the importance of guaranting that hapless adolescents and big adult females on or at hazard of public assistance have easy entree to comprehensive household planning and abortion services that would enable them to avoid unintended gestations and unwanted births.

I can? t imagine anyone reasoning that household planning and abortion services, by themselves, are the key to reforming public assistance. However, their proviso on a strictly voluntary footing is a simple, cost-efficient scheme that would & # 8220 ; empower & # 8221 ; hapless adult females and, at the same clip, have a positive impact on unplanned childbirth.

Granted, non all adult females use preventives, or utilize them efficaciously, but contraceptive method does work, for adolescents every bit good as big adult females. Publicly funded household planning services have prevented an norm of 1.2 million unintended gestations, including 509,000 unintended births and 516,000 extra abortions, each twelvemonth. Every dollar spent on publically subsidized household planning services saves more than $ 4 that would otherwise be spent to supply medical attention, public assistance benefits and other societal services to adult females who by jurisprudence would be eligible for such services if they became pregnant and gave birth.

Meanwhile, public support of abortion services for Medicaid-eligible adult females has been badly restricted since the mid-1970s. Surveies have shown that 20-35 % of Medicaid-eligible adult females ( most of whom are AFDC receivers ) who would hold abortions if coverage were available continue their gestations to term in the absence of coverage-at a cost of 1000000s of dollars yearly to the federal authorities and the provinces.


Sexual activity is now common among adolescents in the United States, and there is small difference in degrees of sexual activity among striplings of different income degrees. However, hapless and low-income adolescents are less likely to utilize preventives when they have intercourse, and therefore are more likely to see an unplanned gestation. When they do acquire pregnant, adolescents from disadvantaged households are besides less probably than their more flush equals to hold an abortion ; approximately 60 % of hapless adolescents and about half of low-income striplings continue their gestation and give birth. All excessively frequently, the poorest of these immature adult females have-and perceive that they have-futures that are black. They see small ground why holding a babe now will do their lives & # 8220 ; worse, & # 8221 ; or, why waiting until subsequently will do their lives & # 8220 ; better. & # 8221 ;

A major challenge is to supply these immature adult females with realistic inducements to wait. That means vouching them-and their partners-access to the instruction and preparation that will enable them to acquire good occupations, which, in bend, will give these immature people ground to trust that their lives will better. It besides means guaranting that household planning and abortion services are widely available on a voluntary footing to all hapless and low-income adolescents who want to detain holding a babe.

Attempts to forestall adolescent gestations and births must be targeted non merely at those already hapless or presently populating in public assistance households, but at all adult females at hazard of poorness and public assistance, since research shows that most immature adult females who give birth as a adolescent do non instantly travel on public assistance. Finally, nevertheless, many fall into poorness, and really frequently, welfare dependence.

The presently proposed deterrences to teenage gestations and out-of-wedlock births are misguided in this respect, if for no other ground than because they are targeted mostly at the really little proportion of immature adult females who are likely to travel on public aid instantly upon the birth of their babe. Yet, really frequently there is a slowdown sometimes of several old ages between the clip most adolescents who finally become welfare-dependent give birth and when they really begin to have AFDC benefits. These adult females are non anticipating to travel on public assistance when they have a kid and therefore are improbable to alter their behaviour as a consequence of limitations on public assistance eligibility related to childbearing.


The Alan Guttmacher Institute ( AGI ) , The Politicss of Blame: Family Planning, Abortion and the Poor, New York, 1995.

AGI, Sex and America & # 8217 ; s Teenagers, New York, 1994.

General Accounting Office ( GAO ) , & # 8220 ; Families on Social welfare: Crisp Rise in Never-Married Women Reflects Societal Trend, & # 8221 ; GAO/HERS-94-92, Washington, D.C. , May 1994.

GAO, & # 8220 ; Families on Social welfare: Teenage Mothers Least Likely to Become Self-Sufficient, & # 8221 ; GAO/HERS-94-115, Washington, D.C. , May 1994.

U.S. House of Representatives, Overview of Entitlement Programs: 1994 Green Book, Washington, D.C. , July 15, 1994.