For example, girls in black communities who get pregnant as teenagers usually get jobs and do pretty well, contrary to myth.
No, they don't - there's no greater indicator that someone will be living in poverty than being part of a single parent family. The stupid choice was allowing ones self to become pregnant as a teen - that they then own up to it and become responsible doesn't really matter since the bulk of the "damage" is already done - they've completely limited their chances and choices.
How many black single teenagers do you know? You're not talking about that from first-hand experience with real people, like Katherine Eden and the social scientists got, right? You're getting this from articles about pregnant teenagers, right? You're just giving us morality and conventional wisdom, right?
Here's what people who actually talked to pregnant teenagers found out first hand. This is only the first of many studies. You can look up dozens on the Internet.
So what do you believe? Do you believe that people can make rational choices in a free market? Or do you believe that negro teenagers are incapable of making rational choices need a Big Brother, such as yourself, to make decisions for them? If the latter, that pretty much blows your free market ideal, doesn't it?
Is pregnancy a rational choice for poor teenagers?
Thomas, Emory Jr. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern Edition). New York, N.Y.:Jan 18, 1996. p. B1
An article examines a controversial but provocative theory embraced by economist Cecilia A. Conrad: that many unmarried teens are having babies as a rational response to prevailing economic conditions--specifically the job market they face. Conrad is one of a vanguard of academics who are examining the subtle economic forces taking place in America. Conrad poses an unorthodox premise: Teen preganancy is not always the disaster it's presumed to be--indeed some teen mothers do not actually suffer at all economically.
Full Text (1258 words)
Copyright Dow Jones & Company Inc Jan 18, 1996
A high-school reunion turned economist Cecilia A. Conrad into a contrarian, at least on the issue of teenage pregnancy.
She was an assistant professor at Barnard College in 1987 when she returned to the mostly black Dallas high school where she'd been valedictorian 15 years before. As part of a class that included a throng of girls who'd had babies as teenagers, Dr. Conrad wasn't surprised to find herself, at age 33, the only new mother at the reunion.
Yet Dr. Conrad was struck by how well many of her classmates had fared despite early and often out-of-wedlock motherhood. Almost none had sunk into prolonged poverty or welfare dependence, as conventional wisdom might dictate. One was a laboratory technician. Another was an inspector with the Food and Drug Administration. A third was a veteran Postal Service worker.
Back at Barnard, she puzzled over why she'd postponed motherhood while so many of her classmates hadn't -- and how, rather than regretting having children at an early age, many seemed to count it a plus. Her questions led her away from an academic interest in business competitiveness and headlong into the emerging field of family economics. She eventually embraced a controversial but provocative theory: that many unmarried teens are having babies as a rational response to prevailing economic conditions -- specifically the job market they face.
Dr. Conrad, one of a vanguard of academics who are examining the subtle economic forces shaping seemingly capricious life decisions, stresses that two-parent families tend to be best for raising children. But she poses an unorthodox premise: Teen pregnancy isn't always the disaster it's presumed to be; indeed, some disadvantaged teen mothers don't actually suffer at all economically.
Roughly one of every three births in America is to an unmarried mother, about 30% of them teenagers. Nearly 75% of all single teen mothers spend some time on welfare, and Congress is now considering denying or reducing such benefits.
With the welfare debate as backdrop, Dr. Conrad and other family economists are looking at childbearing data in fresh ways. Sociologists tracking unwed mothers' outcomes have traditionally underplayed income factors when comparing teenagers with older mothers, and the teens overwhelmingly lag in schooling, employment and other criteria. But the vast majority of teen births come among the disadvantaged. By zeroing in on the culture of poverty -- and the fate of mothers of different ages in it -- other researchers are turning up quite a different picture.
University of Chicago Prof. V. Joseph Hotz, for example, found in a 1995 study that teenage mothers tend to earn more over their lifetimes, and have steadier employment histories, than similarly disadvantaged women who delay childbearing until they're 20 or older. Another researcher, Arline T. Geronimus, a professor at the University of Michigan, found in a 1994 study that, in impoverished conditions, the children of teen mothers tended to do as well or better than children of older mothers on cognitive, emotional and achievement tests.
In poor African-American communities many teenage girls have relatively low expectations of marrying or finding more than marginal jobs, Dr. Conrad says. In such cases, traditional restraints on teenage passions are often absent. "Just saying you should wait, without making it more attractive to wait, isn't going to be very effective," she says.
Dr. Conrad explains that a girl may observe that her unmarried sister, who has just given birth at age 27, has lost her job as a result and is having a tough time making ends meet. A 17-year-old friend with a newborn, meanwhile, is getting by, thanks to support from her parents, who are young and energetic enough to help with child care while she goes to school or finds work. (According to the Congressional Budget Office, about three-quarters of black adolescent mothers live with relatives in the two years after giving birth.)
The notion that unwed teenagers make a "rational choice" to have babies has drawn criticism from those who attribute the rise in unwed teen births to a breakdown in moral responsibility, say, or lack of birth-control education. Another explanation: Teens drift into childbearing on the current of social customs that shift "like the width of ties or hemlines," says Frank F. Furstenberg Jr., professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and a prominent teen-pregnancy researcher.
Teenagers themselves report an array of reasons for becoming pregnant: peer pressure, lack of birth control, fear of losing a boyfriend. Yet Dr. Conrad and others believe it boils down to how hard a teenager tries not to get pregnant. That underlying determination -- or lack of it -- is heavily influenced by her perception of economic possibilities, she says.
Dr. Conrad, who recently moved from Barnard to another tenured position at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., believes that her own decision to avoid early pregnancy was a function of the high expectations of her upper-middle-class family. Her surgeon father served on the Dallas board of education. Her parents compensated for deficiencies in the schools, at one point hiring a French tutor for her and a group of friends. After Franklin D. Roosevelt High School's class of 1972 voted her "most likely to succeed," she went on to graduate from Wellesley College and got her doctorate in economics at Stanford University.
For most students at Roosevelt, which is located in a lower-middle-class neighborhood, the path led in a different direction. Fellow 1972 graduate Jo Ann Williams recalls that she had neither the means nor family encouragement to attend college, and soon after high school she became pregnant.
Her parents helped care for her daughter while Jo Ann worked full-time in a clerical job, earning several promotions. If she had waited until her mid-20s to have a child, "I probably wouldn't have been promoted as fast or learned as much as I did," says Mrs. Williams, now married to the father of her child and working as an office manager at Dallas Water Utilities. "If I were to do it all over again," she adds, "I'd do it exactly the same way."
It's well-established, Dr. Conrad points out, that professional women are delaying childbirth in order to establish careers before temporarily dropping out of the work force. Her computer analysis of vital statistics and occupational data suggests that labor-market factors also influence birth-timing at the opposite end of the economic spectrum -- and in opposite ways.
Today, the largest single occupation for black working women is clerical work (vs. domestic service, the top category in 1965). Because uninterrupted tenure tends to be the surest way to increase pay and benefits in the office-support labor market, Dr. Conrad says "it can make sense to have kids early" before taking such jobs.
Labor-market forces "certainly could be contributing" factors in explaining out-of-wedlock teen-pregnancy rates, says Gary S. Becker, the Nobel Prize-winning economist from the University of Chicago. But he speculates that the bleak job market may play a larger role with teen boys, in deterring them from marriage. Also, he cautions, such factors "are not 100% of the story."
Sitting in her office in Pomona College, Dr. Conrad observes that the parenting decisions made by some of her teen-mother classmates were "more rational" than her own. She and her husband, Llewellyn Miller, a risk-management consultant, decided to have a child soon after she joined the Barnard faculty. In retrospect, she says, "I should have waited until I had tenure."