Millennial Teen Mothers Have an Educational Attainment Gap Not Found in Older Generations

A new study led by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has confirmed the impact of teen pregnancies on educational attainment has been significantly harder on millennial women than women from older generations.

In the early to mid-20th century, teen pregnancies were not uncommon, especially in the post-World War II baby boom era. Since then, gender norms, motherhood expectations, and the timing of motherhood have significantly changed. Women now have access to educational opportunities, and subsequently financial opportunities, that were not as widely available to women from older generations. However, the cost of living in the United States and the cost of postsecondary education have steadily increased in recent years, making it more difficult for today’s teen mothers to go to school than teen mothers of older generations.

For their study, the authors examined a sample of multigenerational women who became mothers as a teenager. The participants included women from the silent generation, baby boomer generation, and elder millennials born in the 1980s. The largest gap in educational attainment between teen mothers and other women of their same generation was found among millennial women born between 1980 to 1984. Women millennials who gave birth later in life were found to be highest-achieving group in the study.

The authors believe their findings suggest that future research on teen pregnancy needs to examined in both historical and socioeconomic contexts. Rather than only focusing on contraception and sex education, the authors believe future studies should incorporate improving access to higher education as a method of reducing teen pregnancies.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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