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Author's School

George Warren Brown School of Social Work

Author's Department/Program

Social Work Research


Shanta Pandey, Susan Frelich Appleton, Letha Chadiha, Shirley L. Porterfield, Fredric Raines, Michael Sherraden


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This dissertation explores the relationship of neighborhood, family and individual socioeconomic factors (including work, assets and educational characteristics) to teenage childbearing. Using data from Wilson's (1987) Urban Poverty and Family Life Study, the dissertation explores two theoretical orientations (culture of poverty and life options) which seek to explain the prevalence of teen childbearing among poor, urban populations. Logistic regression models are analyzed to examine the influence of control and independent variables for an overall sample as well as for gender and racial/ethnic subgroups.

Findings suggest that the consideration of socioeconomic factors is critical in understanding teen behavior. Neighborhood context, including levels of homeownership and the occupational status of residents, plays an especially important role in predicting teen childbearing. The role of public assistance receipt, at the census tract and family levels, is more complex than suggested by current public policy. For example, high levels of public assistance among neighborhood residents is negatively related to teen childbearing (in most models) while family receipt of public aid is positively related to the dependent variable.

Results differ by demographic subgroups, suggesting that socioeconomic factors play different roles in influencing teenage childbearing depending on the subject's gender and race/ethnicity. Such results suggest that research and interventions to prevent teen childbearing need to address and account for these differences.

Finally, this study suggests that successful policies and programs to prevent teen childbearing should address the socioeconomic well-being of individuals, families and neighborhoods, rather than focusing exclusively on fertility-related behavior by itself. Particularly, policies and interventions that aim to increase the participation of low-income residents in higher status jobs, to increase educational standards and the percentage of those who graduate from high school, to increase levels of neighborhood homeownership, and to alleviate poverty at the community and family levels, may be effective in significantly reducing rates of teenage childbearing.



Permanent URL: Print version available in library catalog at Call #: LD5791.8.PhD2002 W49.