Teen Parents’ Cumulative Inequality in Job Achievement: Mediation Effect of Educational Achievement

swr cover croppedTeen pregnancy remains an important societal concern in the United States because teen pregnancy tremendously influences teen parents in terms of opportunities for education and employment. However, little is known about the long-term dynamic relationship between the trajectory of educational attainment and trajectory of job achievement among teen parents.

An article in a recent issue of the journal Social Work Research, co-published by NASW and Oxford University Press highlights these concerns. A study examined the sample of National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, which comprises representative American youths born between 1980 and 1984 (N = 7,771). Latent growth models revealed that teen parents had not only lower initial educational levels, hourly compensation, and annual wages, but also lower increases in educational level, hourly compensation, and annual wages over 10 years. Also, the latent growth mediation model found that initial educational level and changes in educational level mediated the negative association between teen parents and job achievement.

These findings suggest that social work intervention for teen parents should focus on supporting academic success in the long term and providing appropriate employment training programs for better job achievement. Future research may contribute by examining the long-term effect of being a teen parent beyond 10 years and investigating differences between teen mothers and teen fathers.

Study author:

Junghee Bae, PhD, is associate research fellow, National Youth Policy Institute, Sejong, South Korea; e-mail: bjh@nypi.re.kr.

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