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Teenage Childbirth and Young Adult Criminal Convictions: A Quasi-Experimental Study of Criminal Outcomes for Teenage Mothers

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 41 Issue: 5 Dated: September - October 2013 Pages: 318-323
Claire A. Coyne; Nathalie M.G. Fontaine; Niklas Langstrom; Paul Lichtenstein; Brian M. D'Onofrio
Date Published
October 2013
6 pages
This study used longitudinal data from Swedish national registers and sibling comparisons (both full-siblings and half-siblings) in order to determine whether there is an independent association between teenage motherhood and the risk for a criminal conviction between the ages of 20-30.
The study found that although young women who had a child as teenagers were more likely to be convicted of a crime as a young adult than women who delayed childbirth to after their teens, this association disappeared when sisters were compared. Multivariate behavioral analysis that encompassed genetic and shared environmental factors virtually eliminated the influence of teen motherhood on a criminal conviction as a young adult. Those women who were teen mothers were no more likely to be convicted of a crime as a young adult than their sisters who delayed childbearing. This suggests that the association between teen motherhood and criminality may be due to genetic confounding or environmental selection factors that make siblings similar. The authors advise however, that this does not mean that teen motherhood does not have adverse social and economic outcomes for the women involved; however, interventions for at-risk women should address risk factors for both teen childbirth and criminal behavior. The study limitations noted are used to suggest improved methods for future research in this area. 2 figures, 2 tables, and 31 references