Teenage parenthood, particularly when the mother is under 18, is known to increase risk and poor outcomes for their children.
Whether low income teenagers (responsible for a majority of the births) get pregnant to receive an income and subsidised accommodation from the state is an ongoing debate. It is impossible to say that this is true or untrue given the claim concerns thousands of individuals with their own circumstances and motivations. Most people can quote anecdotal evidence that would support the notion. I tend towards thinking that many of those who get pregnant and give birth do so because there is little reason to avoid it. The upsides outweigh the down. The following passage is interesting;
In "Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage," Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas report the findings of their two-and-a-half year field study of 162 young, unmarried mothers living in Philadelphia's blighted urban neighborhoods. Although considerable research has been devoted to understanding the dramatic increase in non-marital child bearing among young women in low-income communities, Edin and Kefalas saw that the "perspectives and life experiences" of low-income single mothers were mostly absent from the body of scientific evidence. In the course of their interviews and interactions with the women in their study, Edin and Kefalas found that low-income teenagers do, in fact, "knowingly" become pregnant, and many consider early, out-of-wedlock child-bearing as not only a valid life option, but a mature and responsible choice.
"To most middle class observers, depending on their philosophical take on things, a poor woman with children but no husband, diploma or job is either a victim of her circumstances or undeniable proof that American society is coming apart at the seams," the authors write. "But in the social world inhabited by poor women, a baby born into such conditions represents an opportunity to prove one's worth." While the poor women they studied perceive marriage as a "luxury" -- "something they aspired to but feared they might never achieve" -- having children is viewed as a necessity, "an absolutely essential part of a young woman's life, the chief source of identity and meaning." And while the exclusive rhetoric of Single Mothers by Choice identifies the ideal single mother as a woman who has "completed college," and is "able to support a child without recourse to public funds," the young women in "Promises I Can Keep" express a high degree of confidence in their ability to be excellent mothers despite their disadvantaged circumstances.
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