Human Nature

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 123–143

Teenage childbearing as an alternative life-course strategy in multigeneration black families

  • Linda M. Burton

DOI: 10.1007/BF02692149

Cite this article as:
Burton, L.M. Human Nature (1990) 1: 123. doi:10.1007/BF02692149


This paper summarizes the findings of a three-year exploratory qualitative study of teenage childbearing in 20 low-income multigeneration black families. Teenage childbearing in these families is part of an alternative life-course strategy created in response to socioenvironmental constraints. This alternative life-course strategy is characterized by an accelerated family timetable; the separation of reproduction and marriage; an age-condensed generational family structure; and a grandparental child-rearing system. The implications of these patterns for intergenerational family roles are discussed.

Key words

Unwed teenage childbearingBlack familiesIntergenerational family rolesGrandmotherhood

Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda M. Burton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Individual and Family Studies, College of Human DevelopmentPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park