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Arline T. Geronimus photo

Does Young Maternal Age Adversely Affect Child Development? Evidence from Cousin Comparison

Publication Abstract

Geronimus, Arline T., Sanders Korenman, and Marianne M. Hillemeier. "Does Young Maternal Age Adversely Affect Child Development? Evidence from Cousin Comparison." PSC Research Report No. 92-256. September 1992.

This study use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) 1979-1988 to estimate relations between maternal age at first birth and measures of early socioemotional and cognitive development of children. The authors compare cross-sectional estimates to estimates based on comparisons of first cousins to gauge the importance of bias from family background heterogeneity. Cross-sectional estimates suggest moderate adverse consequences of teen motherhood for child development. However, children of teen mothers appear to score no worse on measures of development than their first cousins whose mothers had first births after their teen years. The evidence suggests that differences in family background of mothers (factors that precede their childbearing years) account for the low scores on measures of socioemotional and cognitive development seen in young children of teen mothers.

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