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Fam Plann Perspect. 1997 Mar-Apr;29(2):61-6.

Age differences between minors who give birth and their adult partners.

Author information

1
Population Studies Center, Urban Institute, Washington, D.C., USA.

Abstract

The role of adult men in adolescent childbearing has received heightened attention in recent years, and a new policy efforts have focused on statutory rape laws as a way to reduce adolescent childbearing. Analyses of the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey indicate, however, that these policies would not apply to most teenage births. Among mothers aged 15-17 who had a child in 1988, 27% had a partner at least five years older than themselves. In addition, since 23% of minors with older partners were married at the time of the infant's birth, 21% of babies born to unmarried minors were fathered by substantially older men. While births to young mothers and older men raise social concerns, these births make up a small share of all teenage childbearing: Only 8% of all births to 15-19-year-olds are to unmarried minors with a partner five or more years older.

PIP:

This study examines the role of older adult men in teenage childbearing in the US. Data were obtained from the 1988-91 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey. The study investigates the role of men at least 5 years older than the adolescent. 34% of the sample were Black, 48% were White or of other race, and 18% were Hispanic. 62% of teenagers aged 15-17 years at delivery did not report their partner's age, while 27% of women aged 18-30 years did so. Findings indicate that 5040 men aged 22-30 years fathered a child in 1988, of which 1.8% had a female partner aged 15-17 years. 27% of mothers aged 15-17 years had a partner 5 or more years older. Many older men fathered children with women in the youngest age group. 40% of girls aged 15 years had a partner at least 20 years of age. Only 8% of all births to 15-19 year olds were to unmarried minors with a partner 5 or more years older. Births to 15-17 year olds comprised about 33% of all teenage childbearing. Having an older partner was not strongly associated with a minor's race or household income. Minors who already had a child were more likely than those with a first birth to have had an older partner. Mothers aged 15-17 years who had used alcohol in the 3 months preceding the pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to have had an older partner than those who did not use alcohol. 23% of young mothers were married at the time of delivery. 21% of births to unmarried minors were fathered by a much older man. 35% of minors with an older partner were cohabiting during the pregnancy, and 49% were cohabiting at the time of the interview that was conducted up to 30 months after the birth. Employment rates prior to the pregnancy were significantly higher among older fathers compared to similarly-aged fathers. Almost 28% of men with a minor partner did not have a high school diploma. A higher percentage of older men with a minor partner were Black and Hispanic.

PMID:
9099568
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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