Social Disadvantage and the Early Development of Teenage Parents’ Children

Stefanie F. Mollborn, University of Colorado at Boulder
Jeffrey A. Dennis, University of Colorado at Boulder

The educational disadvantage of young mothers' children has been established, but less is known about how this disadvantage takes root and grows in the preschool years. Using the recent Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, we investigated the relationship between having a younger parent and children’s cognitive, behavioral, and health outcomes. Having a teenage mom or dad was associated with children’s compromised development across several domains, but the negative influence of teenage fatherhood disappeared with paternal coresidence and maternal age controlled. Evidence supported our conceptual model proposing that social disadvantage before and after the child’s birth accounts for most of the relationship between early motherhood and children’s development. Resources in the child’s household partially or fully mediated each of the significant relationships between teenage childbearing and child outcomes. Our findings suggest that early childhood is an opportunity to provide resources that could improve the developmental trajectories of children with young mothers.

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Presented in Poster Session 3