Teenagers Willing to Consider Single Parenthood

Who Is at Greatest Risk?

by Allan Abrahamse, Peter A. Morrison, Linda Waite

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Using data from the High School and Beyond panel study, the authors found that of 13,061 female high school sophomores who responded to both the baseline questionnaire in 1980 and a 1982 follow-up, 41 percent of blacks, 29 percent of Hispanics, and 23 percent of non-Hispanic whites said they either would or might consider having a child outside of marriage. Such willingness was higher among young women who, according to their background characteristics, were at greater risk of teenage parenthood. In addition, young black women were more willing to consider having a child while single than were white or Hispanic respondents. The findings suggest that the willingness to consider single motherhood can be traced to patterns of nonconforming behavior, to the educational opportunity costs of becoming a single mother and, at least among whites and Hispanics, to self-reported depression, which may be a proxy for low self-esteem.

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