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Comprehensive Child Marriage Research Library

Early Motherhood in the USA


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Barbieri, Magali


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Editions La Decouverte

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Students Against Child Marriage's Object Summary:

Among developed countries, the US has the second highest rate of adolescent fertility (before age 20), and this paper explores some of the reasons why. Through a comparison with France, a country with one of the lowest adolescent fertility rates, the paper explores the age of marriage and of sexual encounters, contraceptive use, access to abortion, race, and poverty rates in both countries. Although more women marry early in the US than in France, which does account for some of the difference, most adolescent mothers are unmarried. Women become sexually active, on average around the same age in France and the US (17). However, contraceptive use and access to abortion are highly restricted and therefore less accessible to American adolescents than French adolescents. Women of a lower socioeconomic background are also more likely to have children as adolescents, which Barbieri posits is a response to the way that poor women are barred from traditional markers of adulthood like a college education or entering into the professional workforce. Racial class disparities are also larger in the US than in France, non-White Hispanic women and Black women are therefore more likely to become mothers before 20 than other racial groups. Each racial group in the Us, however, has a higher adolescent fertility rate than all of France put together. Barbieri finds that the biggest difference is cultural: while teenage pregnancy is something to be avoided in France, it is teen sexual activity of any kind that is discouraged in the US, pervading from a sense of religious morality that is common across the US.

Article Abstract (If Available):

Magali Barbieri Early motherhood in the USA With a 42/1000 rate in 2005-2010, the USA are rated first among developed countries as to teenage fertility. After presenting a few figures that position the USA among developed countries, we describe fertility, level and trend before age 20 in the USA in detail based on an analysis of civil data. We then evaluate the impact of intermediary variables (manage rate, sexuality, use of contraception and recourse to abortion) before discussing the influence of culture, politics and social and economic realities. As a representative of countries in which teenage fertility is particularly weak, France is used to make comparisons.

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