The Effect of Teenage Pregnancy on Society

By Erica Loop
Teen pregnancy doesn't just impact the mother.

Even though the teen pregnancy rate has been on the decline in recent years, more than 305,000 babies were born to teens in 2012 alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From financial factors to healthcare, children having children impacts society as a whole.

Costs to Taxpayers

It’s no surprise that teen parents have trouble paying for the costs that a baby brings on. Without an advanced education and lacking the skills needed to get well-paying jobs, teens often fall short financially and the costs of raising their child are often passed on to society. Welfare and subsidy programs that exist on taxpayer funds come at a cost to U.S. citizens. For example, costs related to healthcare, foster care and other government programs that contribute to helping teen parents cost taxpayers more than $9 billion in 2011, according to the CDC.

Teens of Teens

The costs to taxpayers doesn’t just mean costs during pregnancy or for infants. Each child costs taxpayers roughly $1,682 annually from the time the child is born through the age of 15, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Teens who were born to teen parents are more likely to drop out of high school and end up in jail than children born to older parents. This results in costs to society that include financial losses from the limited income that these teens earn as well as the expenses of incarceration.

Education and Earnings

The more education a person has, the higher her median weekly earnings are and the less likely she is to be unemployed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. For example, in 2013, the median weekly earnings for someone without a high school diploma were $472. Compare this to $1,329 per week with a master’s degree and $1,714 with a professional degree. Roughly 50 percent of teen mothers drop out of school before getting a high school diploma, seriously impacting her ability to get a job that meets her financial needs and those of her child. Along with the personal impact that teen pregnancy has on the individual worker, the loss in tax revenue from under- or unemployment affects society.

Problems Children Face

The children of teen parents are more likely than other children to become teen parents themselves. This creates a cycle that keeps the societal problems of teen pregnancy going. Along with this issue, children of teen parents have greater risks of medical problems due to lack of prenatal care, abuse and neglect, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.