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Arline T. Geronimus photo

What Teen Mothers Know

Publication Abstract

Geronimus, Arline T. 1996. "What Teen Mothers Know." Human Nature, 7(4): 323-52.

In the United States, low-income or minority populations tend toward earlier births than the more advantaged. In disadvantaged populations, one factor that may exert pressure toward early births is "weathering," or pervasive health uncertainty. Are subjective perceptions of health related to fertility timing? Drawing on a small sample of intensive interviews with teenage mothers-to-be, I suggest that low- income African American teenagers may expect uncertain health and short lifespans. Where family economies and caretaking systems are based on kin networks, such perceptions may influence the decision to become a young mother. Heuristic typologies of ways socially situated knowledge may contribute to the reproduction of fertility timing practices contrast the experiences of poor African American interviewees, working class white interviewees, and middle-class teens who typically postpone childbearing.

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