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Cost of Teenage Childbearing: Current Trends

Publication Date
Jul 31, 1992

This article discusses the cost of teenage childbearing as estimated by the Center for Population Options (CPO). The single-year cost for all families originating from a teen birth is estimated at approximately $25 billion in 1990, up from $16.6 billion in 1985. The rapid increase in expenditures related to adolescent childbearing is considered a function of increases in medical care costs, expansion in Medicaid eligibility, and a 30% increase in teen births from 1984 to 1989. Two-thirds of births to women age 19 and under were out-of-wedlock. White unmarried teenagers accounted for 72% of the increase in out-of-wedlock births during the 1980s. Medical costs rose generally during the period and additional costs are associated with low birth weight babies, who are more commonly born to teenage compared to older mothers. (It is noted that since a large percentage of teens who give birth are living in poverty, not all the costs attributed to teenage births by CPO would be eliminated if all teens postponed childbearing until age 20 or older. The savings would be about 40% of what is currently being expended.) (ASPE Research Notes, Volume 3) [5 PDF pages]