Teen mothers won’t necessarily face a life of low income because they had children at an earlier age, a new Statistics Canada study suggests.The study, “Life after teenage motherhood,” published Friday in Perspectives on Labour and Income, used the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics to look at the personal and long-term socio-economic characteristics of women between the ages of 30 and 39 who gave birth as teenagers. The report compared women who were teen moms with those who were adult mothers on the basis of educational outcome, long-term participation in the labour force and low-income status.
Overall, teen mothers in Canada had a lower probability of completing high-school and post-secondary education compared to their adult counterparts. However, women with similar education levels also had a similar likelihood of being in full-year, full-time work — regardless of when they had their first child.
“Being a teenage mother is difficult, there’s no doubt about it, because a large proportion of them did not complete high school,” said Statistics Canada analyst May Luong in an interview Friday from Ottawa. “But if they can complete high school and go on to post-secondary school, they’re going to be just as likely as the adult mothers to not be in the low-income category, and that’s essentially what’s important to a person’s well-being – that they have the income to live their lives.”
According to the study, the baseline probabilities among all mothers of completing high-school and post-secondary education were 91 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively. Teen moms were 17 percentage points less likely to complete high school and between 14 and 19 points less likely to finish post-secondary studies. Both teen moms and adult mothers with less than high-school education were both less likely to be working in a full-time job for the full year.
On the flip side, teen moms who completed post-secondary studies were actually more likely than their adult counterparts to work full-time, full year. Luong said the data doesn’t give an indication as to why that is the case.
There were 31,611 teenage pregnancies in Canada in 2004, with almost half resulting in live births. These births to teen girls accounted for 4.2 per cent of total births. In 2004, Canada’s birth rate among teens is 13.6 for every 1,000 teen women, far below the birth rate of 41.1 in the U.S., but nearly seven times higher than the rate in Sweden, which has one of the lowest teen birth rates of all developed countries.
-with a report from CP