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The Outcomes for Children of Teenage and Early Motherhood: Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort . Denise Hawkes and Heather Joshi SLLS September 2010. Social polarisation age at motherhood. Later childbearing since 1970 has not affected all social groups equally.

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the outcomes for children of teenage and early motherhood evidence from the uk millennium cohort

The Outcomes for Children of Teenage and Early Motherhood: Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort

Denise Hawkes and Heather Joshi

SLLS

September 2010

social polarisation age at motherhood
Social polarisation age at motherhood
  • Later childbearing since 1970 has not affected all social groups equally.
  • Disadvantaged women tend to have children earlier.
  • Are their children also at a disadvantage?
  • How far are any disadvantages in children of young mothers reflections of their mothers’ age or their antecedent experience?
millennium cohort study
Millennium Cohort Study
  • MCS is the fourth birth cohort study in the UK, around 19,000 children born in the UK between September 2000 and January 2002
  • Interviewed four times to date: when cohort members were nine months, three years, five years and seven years old.
  • Over samples those living in areas with high child poverty rates, large proportions of ethnic minority residents and those living in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
complex causality
Complex causality
  • Postponement of childbearing reflects opportunities for women in education and labour market.
  • The minority still starting families young may be choosing to deny themselves these advantages, or these opportunities may not be open to them
  • Early motherhood reflects, and in some ways compounds earlier disadvantage for women.
  • Whether early motherhood was a rational choice or an accident complicates the analysis of the consequences for women of the timing of the first birth.
  • The children did not make the choice of what age mother they acquired. This paper is about consequences for children
evidence of mothers age on child outcomes
Evidence of mothers age on child outcomes
  • Pevalin 2003
    • British 1970 Cohort Study: Children born in 1970 with younger mothers were:
      • More likely to be born preterm or low birthweight
      • At age 5 significantly lower on cognitive scores (EPVT) and higher on poor behaviour scores (Rutter Child Scale)
        • Before and after some controls for social background
  • Berrington et al. 2005
    • ALSPAC members with teenage mothers
      • No significant difference in language development, social development, gross/fine motor skills and pro-social behaviour
      • More likely to have accidents and behavioural problems – partly mediated by mother’s antecedents and mental health
  • Hofferth and Reid 2002
    • US NLSY and PSID members with young mothers
      • Significantly worse behavioural and one cognitive score
      • Analysis allows for changes over calendar time
  • Lopez Turley 2003
    • US NSLY -
      • Poorer cognitive scores due to social disadvantage rather than mother’s age per se
research strategy
Research Strategy
  • We estimate a set of nested models for 4 child outcomes at age 5 as a function of the broad age group at which the mother had her first child.
  • Model 1 controls only for independent factors needed to take ‘noise’ out of the data
  • Model 2 considers how the age at motherhood terms are explained by what we know about the mother’s life as a child.
  • Model 3 includes a set of circumstance in the child’s first year of life – will be the first year of motherhood only for those who are first born.
models of child outcomes c at age 5
Models of child outcomes ( C)at age 5

Model 1

C = f (AgeMum, Design, Development controls)

Model 2

C =f (AgeMum, Design, Development controls, Antecedent factors)

Model 3

C =f (AgeMum, Design, Development controls, Antecedent factors, Circumstances in child’s first year)

explanatory variables
Explanatory variables
  • Design and Development

Stratification term for type of ward and country

Child gender, Birthweight, Twin/ triplet, Whether first born

  • Antecedent

Born in UK, Ethnic Group, Father’s Occupation when woman aged 14, Parents’ separation, Ever in Care, Left school at minimum age

  • First Year of Child’s Life

Highest qualification of woman, Language, Partner present/ employed, Housing tenure, Income, Woman employed.

dependent variables c at age 5
Dependent Variables ( C) at age 5
  • Cognitive assessments:
  • 3 elements of British Ability Scales
    • Naming Vocabulary
    • Picture Similarities
    • Pattern Construction
  • These provide age-adjusted scores, standardized to an external reference population with a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10.
dependent variables cont
Dependent Variables Cont.
  • Behavioural Adjustment
    • Total Difficulties Scale on the Strengths and Difficulties
    • four subscales emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity and problems with peers.
  • The score is treated as continuous, and transformed into a T-score, internally standardized with a mean set to 50 and a SD set to 10.
summary of results
Summary of Results
  • All four indicators of child development at 5 show systematic patterning by mother’s age at her first birth
  • There is some sensitivity to socio-economic differences during the childhood and adolescence of the children’s mothers, and some to circumstances in the child’s first year.
  • But neither set of factors explains all the variation.
conclusion 1
Conclusion (1)
  • Child outcomes appear to be sensitive to the age their mothers had their first child
  • These patterns are the same for first born children only
  • Verbal cognitive scale showed greatest systematic variation, followed by the behaviour score, with smaller differentials for the other two cognitive scores.
  • Only the naming vocabulary scale produces a significant difference between teen and young mothers in the full model.
conclusion 2
Conclusion (2)
  • About one quarter of the leads of late over the early mothers is accounted for by observed factors rooted in the previous generation, the cohort child’s mother’s own family of origin.
  • Another one quarter by the battery of factors which were measured in the cohort child’s first year.
  • This leaves a residual unexplained differential, about half of the unadjusted gap, either unmeasured antecedents or the direct consequence of the mother’s ‘immaturity’.
policy to reduce polarisation
Policy to reduce polarisation?
  • Delaying teenage and early births may not have much benefit for children unless other circumstances change.
  • Policy needed to break vicious cycle at both points - Disadvantage among children and adolescents creates a context in which early motherhood is seen as an attractive option, or at least not avoided, and which transmits further disadvantage to children.
  • Early years interventions such as Sure Start and Children’s Centres, along with schools and health services, need to be sensitive to the difficulties facing young mothers who are less likely to be able to give their children a good start unassisted.
the outcomes for children of teenage and early motherhood evidence from the uk millennium cohort21

The Outcomes for Children of Teenage and Early Motherhood: Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort

Denise Hawkes and Heather Joshi

d.hawkes@gre.ac.uk & h.joshi@ioe.ac.uk

Thank you for your attention

Comments Welcomed