The Characteristics and Circumstances of Teen Fathers: At the Birth of Their First Child and Beyond.

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Scott, Mindy E.
Steward-Streng, Nicole R.
Manlove, Jennifer.
Moore, Kristin A.
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Research and policy in the United States have focused much more on teen mothers than on teen fathers. One reason for this discrepancy is that birth certificates contain limited information on the birth fathers, which makes it difficult to even get an accurate count of teen fathers. However, new Child Trends' estimates show that 9 percent--or 900,000--young men between the ages of 12 and 16 in 1996 (reflecting the group of young men examined in this brief) became fathers before their twentieth birthday. Despite the size of this group, relatively little is known about the characteristics and circumstances of teen fathers, either when they first have a child or later in life. To fill in some of that missing information, this Research Brief presents a statistical portrait of teen fathers' characteristics at the time that their first child was born; their union status at the birth of that child (i.e., whether they were married, cohabiting, or not in a relationship); their subsequent experience fathering a child, if any; and their residential status at birth and in young adulthood (i.e., whether they were or were not livingwith their children). To produce this brief, Child Trends analyzed data from a sample of young men in the NationalLongitudinal Survey of Youth-1997 cohort (NLSY97) who experienced the birth of their first child while still in their teens. Overall, teen fathers who lived with their child at the time of the birth were more likely to be living with that child when they were in their early twenties, compared to teen fathers who did not live with their child at birth. Additionally, almost half of men who fathered children as a teen had at least one additional child by the time they were ages 22-24, sometimes with a different mother. Both of these findings, as well as others present in this brief, have implications for children's well-being. (Author abstract)

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